Pumpkin Seeds - Selecting and Saving

Pumpkin Seeds Germination

It’s all about the seeds. Whether you are selecting them for spring planting, or saving them in the Fall, you want to make sure you have the very best.  Certainly, the best seeds will produce the very best pumpkins.

Selecting Seeds

Experienced growers will tell you, that good seed is an important to a successful crop. What this means is:

  1. The seed is viable and a good germination rate(percentage of seeds sprouting) is likely to occur.
  2. Genetics, genetics, genetics. If you want a large pumpkin, obtain seed from a large fruited parent. However, not all large pumpkins are “pretty”. You may have to sacrifice a little size for a rounder, oranger strain.
  3. Plant viruses can be stored in the seed, and carry into the next year’s crop. Look for seed from an experienced grower, who rotates his crops, and can be trusted to remove any diseased vegetation from his garden.
  4. The seeds will produce the type of fruit you want. Cross-pollination is common among the Cucurbita Family. Any experienced home gardener has experienced a cross between a pumpkin and a zucchini at least once. The problem is that when cross-pollination occurs, the genetics are contained in the seed of the crossed fruit, and will not show up until next year. Experienced growers know how to minimize this risk.

Keep the above thoughts in mind, when you acquire seeds. But, do not let it deter you from either saving your own, or getting seed from another grower.

Saving Seeds:

Here are the simple steps for saving seed for next year:

  1. Select large, healthy pumpkins from healthy plants. Remember, large begets large, and round begets round.

  2. If one plant appears more disease resistant than others, use a pumpkin from this vine.

  3. Select two or three (or more) pumpkins, if possible. Using several fruit increases the likelihood of good germination.

  4. Extract the seed from the pumpkins.

  5. Wash and rinse seeds thoroughly, using soapy, lukewarm water. Do not use hot water, and do not soak them in water.

  6. Drain seeds in a strainer.

  7. Spread seed out on a screen.

  8. Stir the them often the first two days. Turn them over as you stir.

  9. Allow the seeds to air dry in a cool, dry area for three weeks. Longer is recommended. Do not cut the time short, even if the seeds appear “dry”.

  10. Store them in a bag, envelope or jar in a cool dry place. Use of an air tight jar is not recommended, because if the seeds have not thoroughly dried, they will mold and rot.

  11. Mark the them with date and type of pumpkin.

  12. Some people place the seed in a freezer for a couple of weeks before sowing them, to replicate nature’s winter cycle. This is optional and I have seen no difference.

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