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20211020 TAMU Pumpkins 1 webBy U.S. Senator John Cornyn

As the cool breeze of autumn begins to sweep through the Lone Star State, there's a particular charm that sets Texas apart during this time of year. Beyond the sprawling landscapes and bustling cities, Texas boasts a remarkable connection between fall festivities and our thriving agriculture sector. Often at the heart of seasonal celebrations are pumpkin patches, where families come together to make memories while supporting Texas farmers.

Whether it's carving a spooky Jack-o'-lantern or preparing a delicious pumpkin pie, choosing the perfect pumpkin is an unforgettable experience for Texans young and old. Families meander through the fields, carefully inspecting each pumpkin for its unique shape, size, and personality. This classic family fun makes a visit to a pumpkin patch a must-do each season.

If you journey westward in our state far enough, you may find yourself in the "Pumpkin Capital of the USA," Floydada, Texas. Every fall, thousands rush to Floydada's annual Punkin' Days Festival to participate in their BBQ and chili cook-offs – it doesn’t get more Texan than that. Amidst pumpkin pie-eating contests, festive decorations, and local artisans, Floydada invites families to explore roughly 1,200 acres lined with more than 170 varieties of pumpkins. Floydada may be home to only 2,500 people, but this small town knows how to celebrate fall in a big way.

While Floydada is one town in West Texas, the entire region accounts for about 90% of Texas-grown pumpkins and is a leader in food, fiber, and fuel production. Nationwide, Texas is the fourth-leading state in pumpkin output, producing more than 100 million pounds of pumpkins each year. This isn't just a testament to the state's fertile soil but also to its dedicated farmers and ranchers, who play a key role in Texas’ economic success. Exploring these pumpkin patches offers a unique opportunity for families to gain insight into agriculture and farming. Texans can learn the process of cultivating the crop from a tiny seedling to a plump, ripe pumpkin ready for harvest.

We are fortunate to enjoy the fruits of their labor, yet maintaining pumpkin patches has become progressively challenging for farmers subject to severe Texas heat and drought. Inflation has also caused problems with rising costs for materials and labor. For many farmers, growing pumpkins is becoming an uphill battle. It’s crucial that we continue to visit our local pumpkin patches to support Texas farmers, who work year-round to provide our nation’s food supply.

Texas pumpkin patches demonstrate an incredible journey from field to table and offer much more than just fun games and cozy treats. They also give us a chance to celebrate our state's rich farming heritage. They bring families and communities together, create lasting memories, and support local producers. As we embrace the fall season, let us not only enjoy the thrill of pumpkin picking but also appreciate the dedication and hard work of our Texas farmers who make this beloved tradition possible.