FarmLife Five: Fun Fall Factoids

Growing pumpkins in Illinois and Nova Scotia, picking up horse apples in Texas, and giving thanks and talking turkey in the U.S. and Canada.

By Tommy Black | Photos By Matt Brennan

90% of all the pumpkins grown in the U.S. are raised within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Ill.

90% of all the pumpkins grown in the U.S. are raised within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Ill.

Pumpkin Central: According to the University of Illinois, 90% of all the pumpkins grown in the U.S. each year are raised within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Ill. The nearby town of Morton (home to a Libby’s processing plant that cans more than 85% of the world’s pumpkins each year) is known as the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.” Source: University of Illinois Extension, Agricultural Marketing Resource Center

Great Pumpkin Seeds: The rising popularity of pumpkin seeds and their oils in various foods has led the Nova Scotia Agricultural College to study producing “oilseed pumpkins” on a commercial scale. Usually grown for decoration, the small, green-striped gourds are filled with hulless seeds with higher levels of antioxidants than dried sunflower seeds or extra virgin olive oil. Source: Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada

Bonus Pumpkin Factoid

Pumpkins Aren’t Just for Pies: Or at least just those we eat—a study by Delaware State University indicates that the folk remedy of using ground pumpkin seeds to expel tapeworms from livestock may have a scientific basis. The study found that the seeds contain a deworming compound called “cucurbitacin.” Source: Delaware State University Cooperative Extension

Hedge Apples: The fruit of the Osage Orange hedge tree (known as a “Hedge Apple” in Iowa and a “Horse Apple” in Texas) ripens and falls from the trees in, well, fall. Landing with a thud, the baseball-size fruit not only makes for great lawn bowling balls, it also contains chemical compounds that some believe repel cockroaches and spiders. As for the tree’s stable but pliable yellow wood, it’s been long used for making archery bows, musical instruments and fencing. Source: University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension

Saying Thanks: Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October; those in the States on the fourth Thursday in November. So, this year Canadians will say “thanks” on October 13, and Americans on November 27—and then everybody will start eating leftovers.

Bonus Thanksgiving Factoid

Who Was First?: While Canadians claim to have celebrated Thanksgiving before the U.S. (citing English explorer Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew giving thanks after landing in Newfoundland in 1578, as opposed to the Pilgrim’s Plymouth party 43 years later), Americans were the first to make it an official holiday. President Abraham Lincoln first declared Thanksgiving a national day of celebration in 1863, but the date moved around until 1941 when Congress finally set it on the fourth Thursday of November. Canadian officials tried to make it coincide with Armistice Day (November 11) in 1921, but celebrating two holidays at the same time was kind of confusing, and it was officially changed to the second Monday of October in 1957. Source: Mental Floss magazine

Tons of Turkey: 736 million pounds of turkey were consumed in the U.S. in 2011, while Canadians ate about 313 million pounds (142 million kg) in 2012. In addition, in 2011 the U.S. exported about 703 million pounds of turkey meat and Canada about 46 million pounds. Source: University of Illinois Extension, Turkey Farmers of Canada

Bonus Fall, er, Autumn, er, Harvest Factoid

Autumn or Fall? Originally known as “Harvest,” the season between summer and winter gradually became known as “Autumn” to farmers in 14th century England. By the 16th century some were also referring to it as “Fall” (from a Germanic word referring to the season’s falling leaves and fruits). Although “Fall” never really caught on in England, the term became popular in the U.S. (which still makes some British lexicographers grimace). The terms get equal time in Canada, where folks generally say both. Source: