You want to know how to harvest and store pumpkins? Start here first.
In the United States, more than 1 billion pounds of pumpkin are produced every single year. Though most pumpkins come from Indiana, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California, with the right tools anyone can grow them.
But the real question is, when and how to harvest pumpkins?
For those looking for the best, check out this comprehensive guide on how to harvest pumpkins and how to store them.
When to Harvest Pumpkins
Most pumpkins take an average of 75 to 115 days until they are ready to harvest. Traditionally, harvest time falls right around the first frost of autumn.
Once the first frost of fall has passed, cut your pumpkins from the vines. Allow them to bask in the sun for two weeks. This helps to fully color the pumpkins and harden the rinds.
Pumpkins vary in color depending on the type. Some colors included:
Regardless of color, the exterior of the pumpkin should have a hard, glossy shell. All pumpkins should be harvested before the first hard frost (29°F or lower). Your pumpkin yield will likely be ruined from hard freezes. In the event of this, simply harvest pumpkins until any long-term cold persists and place them back into a warm sunny spot after for full curing.
In the event of unexpectedly cold weather conditions, place straw under the pumpkins to provide a buffer layer between them and the cold, hard ground.
How to Harvest Pumpkins
When it is time to harvest your pumpkins, you’ll need a garden lopper or a sharp knife. Cut the pumpkin at the vine, leaving about three to six inches of the stem attached to it.
Don’t forget to wear gloves, the vines can have prickles!
Always carry the pumpkins from their base to best protect them. Never carry your pumpkin from the stem as it can easily detach and cause your pumpkin to fall and break on the ground.
How to Store Pumpkins
Pumpkins store best with their stems still attached. The first step in how to store pumpkins is to make sure your pumpkins are clean. Remove soil on the exterior of the pumpkin using soapy water and a sturdy rag. Remember to rinse with just water.
Allow the pumpkin to air dry. Once dry, pumpkins should be left in a warm place with high humidity for about two weeks. Aim to keep them at 80 degrees Fahrenheit and at about 80 percent relative humidity.
These high temps allow the pumpkins thick skin to harden. It even can heal surface skin wounds on the pumpkin, ripen the fruit, and improve the flavor.
While in storage, make sure the pumpkins are not touching. Consider using coverings, such as blankets or sheets of burlap, to keep them separated. It is most ideal to store harvested pumpkins on wood, cardboard, or plastic surfaces and not on cement or concrete floors, due to moisture-wicking. Stored properly, pumpkins can last for up to three months!
Pumpkin season is here! For more info on growing pumpkins, check out our blog article Squash and Pumpkin – Growing Tips.
What are you waiting for? Your pumpkins await!
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