The Q&A Archives: Pumpkins Turn to Mush

Question: Last year, we grew beautiful pumpkin vines and fruit, but when went to harvest them (before the first frost) the pumpkins had turned to mush. What did we do wrong, and how can we prevent this from happening again?

Answer: When fruit is in contact with moist soil for long periods of time, rot organisms such as phytophthora blight can cause problems. Soft sunken spots form where the fruit touches the soil, and if the conditions are good for the fungus, it can cause complete collapse of the fruit. The rot can also start where the fruit has been wounded by pests or rough handling. To minimize the problem, prop the pumpkins up off the ground with bricks or other braces so they are not in contact with moist soil. Use care when doing this, though, so you don't break the vines or crack the stems.

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