The Q&A Archives: Harvesting Pumpkins

Question: We planted one acre of pumpkins this year to sell. It went pretty well (600+ pumpkins) but we had several that rotted after we picked them. For the most part all were orange when picked but a few were green/part orange. I couldn't tell any difference in the ones that rotted between the orange or green ones. Are there varieties that keep better than others or would a wet, warm fall be the culprit? We planted the pumpkins Mid June.

Answer: It is best to leave pumpkins on the vine as long as possible and they are fully colored. They won't ripen properly off the vine. Pumpkins will taste best and keep longest if you allow them to remain on the vine until fully mature. It's best to wait until vines die back and a light frost kills the vines, which signals the pumpkins to ripen and develop a hard shell. A light frost actually improves the flavor of pumpkins by changing some of their starch into sugar. A quick field-test, to see if your pumpkins are mature is to try to press your fingernail into the skin of the fruit. If you can break the skin, the pumpkin is immature. If the skin is hard, the pumpkin is mature.

Harvest during dry weather by cutting the fruit from the vine, leaving 3-4 inches of stem. Dry in the sun until the stems shrivel and turn gray. Then brush dirt off and store in a cool, dry area. Pumpkins will keep several months in storage.

I hope this info helps!

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