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Texas crop, weather: Pumpkins at a premium?

In much of the United States this autumn, a turnip may have to be used as a jack-o'-lantern, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates lower national yields.

But not so in Texas. Bountiful rain at the right time this summer has netted an excellent pumpkin crop, especially in the large production area near Lubbock, according to a Texas Cooperative Extension official.

"The 2007 crop is ample, yields are up and quality is good," said J.D. Ragland, Extension agriculture agent in Floyd County, the state's No. 1 pumpkin-producing county. "We're harvesting from about 900 acres this year. Timely rains and a cooler-than-normal growing season have pushed yields to 25,000 to 27,000 pounds per acre, up a bit from the 20,000-pound average we normally see."

That means some 1 million pumpkins from Floyd County, officials there note, and each one harvested, loaded and packed for shipment by hand.

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