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Picking the perfect pumpkin at Pray's

KEESEVILLEWith autumn comes harvest timeand harvest time means pumpkins.

Prays Family Farm, in Keeseville, is operating weekend wagon rides to the field so people can have the chance to pick their perfect pumpkin. Rides are offered from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., weather permitting.

Its an experience for the family, and the kids, said Darcy Pray, one of the general partners in the farm. During the week, similar rides are offered to schools.

Pumpkins can last between eight to ten weeks, Pray said, if taken care of properly. The best thing to do is bring pumpkins inside during the night so they dont get hit by frost.

When picking a pumpkin, look for a modest-size gourd. A pumpkin should have a good three-inch handle.

Ive always found the small-to-medium pumpkins last longer than the large ones, said Pray. He recommended that people not carve pumpkins until about ten days before Halloween.

Along with carving jack-o-lanterns, pumpkins are also popular as other seasonal decorations. One of the most creative concepts hes come across, Pray said, was using small pumpkins in flower arranging to create a unique centerpiece.

Pray suggested that pumpkins intended for display be wiped down with a bit of bleach and water, which aids in their preservation.

This time of year pumpkins and winter squash are both big business for Prays. Many of Prays prize pumpkins are sold wholesale in Albany or shipped elsewhere throughout the region.

Prays Farm has been family-operated since 1940. Throughout the year it also produces strawberries, corn, beans, tomatoes, peas, green and yellow squash, green onions and cherry tomatoes. Along with its farm stand in Keeseville, Prays has a retail store in Plattsburgh.

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