Here’s what you need to know about keep­ing pump­kins

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL POLK COUNTY EXTENSION - By Ricky Ens­ley Polk County Ex­ten­sion Co­or­di­na­tor

This time of year, a fall fa­vorite is now ready to be picked off their vines, and with a va­ri­ety of uses they are handy to have around.

You al­ways want to har­vest pump­kins when they be­come ma­ture.

At this stage, the rind is hard (re­sists dent­ing by thumb­nail pres­sure) and the pump­kin has de­vel­oped the char­ac­ter­is­tic color for that cul­ti­var. As a gen­eral rule, nat­u­rally ag­ing vines are in­di­rect in­di­ca­tors of pump­kin ma­tu­rity. How­ever, to en­sure good keep­ing qual­ity, ma­ture pump­kins should be har­vested prior to cold dam­age, which in­creases the like­li­hood of stor­age rots. When har­vest­ing, leave three to four inches of stem. Pump­kins with stems re­moved do not store as well since the stem scars may af­ford rot or­gan­isms con­ve­nient en­try.

Here are some sug­ges­tions for har­vest­ing and stor­ing your pump­kins:

Es­tab­lish, fer­til­ize, and man­age the crop prop­erly so that healthy (free of dis­ease, in­sects, and me­chan­i­cal in­jury) pump­kins are avail­able for har­vest­ing.

Har­vest the fruit when it is ma­ture and the rind is hard, but be­fore night tem­per­a­tures are be­low 40 de­grees F and well be­fore a frost or a hard freeze.

Har­vest the fruit when it is dry. Do not han­dle wet fruit.

Har­vest, han­dle, and store fruit care­fully to avoid in­juries.

Dis­card all fruit that is im­ma­ture, in­jured, or has rots or blem­ishes. Th­ese fruit should not be har­vested or stored.

Do not pick up freshly har­vested fruit by the stem since many will sep­a­rate from the fruit and pro­vide eas­ier ac­cess for rot or­gan­isms.

Do not stack the fruit higher than three feet ( ide­ally, sin­gle layer for large pump­kins).

Do not per­mit har­vested or stored fruit to get wet. Usu­ally pump­kins are not washed, but if wash­ing is nec­es­sary, be sure the wa­ter is chlo­ri­nated.

For bet­ter keep­ing, some grow­ers cure pump­kins for 10 to 20 days at 80 to 85 de­grees F with good ven­ti­la­tion.

Har­vested fruit should be stored with good ven­ti­la­tion at tem­per­a­tures from 50 to 55 de­grees F and rel­a­tive hu­mid­ity be­tween 50 to 75 per­cent. Re­frig­er­a­tion tem­per­a­tures (35-40 de­grees F) may cause chill­ing in­juries and shorten shelf life. High tem­per­a­ture stor­age will re­sult in ex­ces­sive loss of weight, color, and culi­nary qual­i­ties. High hu­midi­ties may pro­mote rots. Stor­age life with­out sig­nif­i­cant loss in qual­ity is typ­i­cally two or three months.

Ricky Ens­ley

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.