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Pumpkin Harvesting and Storage

Congratulations. You are the first grower in your neighborhood to have a large, ripe pumpkin! And, its shape is so nice and round. Your only problem is, it is now mid-August and Halloween is over two months away. If you leave it on the vine, you fear it will surely rot, or the bugs will get  toit. Don't worry or fret. Properly stored, pumpkins are "long keepers". Here are some guidelines and tips for picking and storing pumpkins, so they last until Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Harvesting Pumpkins:
  • Leave the fruit on the vine as long as you can.
  • Measure it every few days to see if it is still growing
  • Do not pick it until the skin has reached full color and has hardened.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut off the stem at the vine. Be careful not to damage the vine, if there are more pumpkins still on it.
  • A good pumpkin has a good stem. Do not carry the pumpkin by the stem. Carry the pumpkin out of the field by holding it in the palms of your hands. If you plan on selling them, a pumpkin with a broken or missing stem loses much of it's price on the market.
  • Wash the pumpkin off completely.

Tip: Putting a board under your ripening pumpkin is a common practice to deter bugs, moles and rotting from underneath.

For more information, see: Pumpkin Picking Tips

  • As a rule of thumb, pumpkins can normally be stored for 30 - 90 days.
  • For long term storage, wash the pumpkins in a very mild chlorine solution. Use one cup (8 ounces) of chlorine to one gallon of water. This will destroy bacterias which may cause the fruit to rot.
  • Allow the pumpkin to dry completely.
  • Store the pumpkin in a cool, dry and dark place(if possible)
  • Avoid hot and humid places, even if storing for only a couple of weeks.
  • Pumpkins are best stored on a board or piece of cardboard.
  • Do not store the fruit on a cement floor, as they tend to rot.
  • Do not store the fruit on a good rug in case it was to rot, as it would ruin the rug.

Note: The above process can be used for most fruits and vegetables. Although storage time will vary.

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