Almost every new grower wants to know when to harvest pumpkins. Because harvesting pumpkins is not an easy job. You need to get familiar with the ripe pumpkins so that you can judge the growing state of your pumpkins.
According to professional horticulturists, one should harvest pumpkins once they become fully ripe. Because they do not develop taste if ripe with unnatural ways. Normally they take 75 to 112 days to ripe after sowing the seeds in the ground.
Pumpkins grown from seedlings get ready for the harvest in 65 to 70 days. Whereas plants grown from seeds take a little longer and get ready for the harvest in 85 to 112 days.
In this post you will know when to harvest pumpkins regardless of the growing method. How do know they are ready to pick?
How to identify ripe pumpkins?
There are 4 ways by which you can say a pumpkin is ripe and is ready to pick. The first thing that you need to check is the color of the vegetable.
Color of pumpkins
The color of the vegetables tells us many things about their health and current growth state. So, you need to check the color of the pumpkin in the first place. If the pumpkin is fully orange this means it is ready for the harvest. But here you cannot pick it by just checking the color of its outer shell.
Because some varieties have orange pumpkins whereas some have white, grey, or blue-grey pumpkins. Therefore, to make sure about its correct state of ripening check the second thing and that is
The hollow sound
In this method, you need to slap the pumpkins and listen to how they sound. If they sound hollow this indicates that they are ripe. Do this process without cutting them from vines. Remove your garden gloves and then gently slap the pumpkins.
Check the Skin
The mature pumpkins have shining thick outer skin. Use your fingernail to puncture the outer skin of pumpkins. If they do not get punctured this means pumpkins are ready to pick. But if your fingernail goes in them easily. Then leave them on the vine for more days. Remember that the harvesting of unripe pumpkins results in pumpkin rot.
Note: Do not use any tool to do the puncture test, only fingernail is recommended.
Check the Stem
The last step is checking the stem. It should be hard enough to hold the weight of the entire pumpkin once you lift it. Harvest them before the first frost because they cannot tolerate the cold weather. Picking them 14 days before the first frost is the best time of harvesting.
When to pick pumpkins without damage?
Now that you know how to identify the ripe pumpkin. The next step is harvesting them without damaging the plant and vegetable itself.
It does not matter you use a kitchen knife or shears to cut the pumpkin from vines. The tool should be sharp and sterile before using for the harvest of pumpkins. Because if it is not sharp enough it will leave the jagged cut. This will invite many diseases to the harvested pumpkins. Pumpkin rot is a common problem due to a jagged cut.
Leave the long stem with pumpkins when you cut them from vines. The length of the vine should be 3 to 4 inches long. This will slow down the rotting of pumpkins and you have a long storage time. This also prevents pests and diseases away from the ripe pumpkins.
Because the head of the fruit where the stem is attached to them is the soft area. Pests can easily enter the vegetable and spoil it.
The step before curing them is disinfecting the pumpkins. Use a brush to remove all the dirt from them. Professional growers use a 10 % bleach solution to wipe them and to kill the organisms on the outer skin of the pumpkins.
Do not worry about the bleach. It will evaporate in few hours and will not negatively affect the vegetable. Also do not cause any health issues.
If you do not like to use bleach then you can use soapy water to kill bacteria.
How to cure and store pumpkins for a long time?
Before curing pumpkins make sure they are dry. If not then use a cotton cloth or paper towel to dry them completely. Curing is a process that makes the outer shell of vegetables hard. So that we store them for a long time without any problem.
To make pumpkins outer shell harder store them in 25 to 30 degrees C temperature with 80 % humidity in the air for about 10 to 12 days. Other benefits of curing are it ripe the unmatured pumpkins, heal small cuts, and improve flavor.
If you harvest them just before the first frost. Then you need to use blankets to give them warm conditions.
For storing cured pumpkins, you need to find a cool and dry place. It can be a garage or basement. The condition is you need to keep the temperature between 9 to 14 degrees C. If it goes above, they will overripe, and if the temperature drops below 8 degrees C. The pumpkins become soft and rot easily.
Under ideal temperature conditions, you can store them easily for 2 to 3 months depending upon the variety of pumpkins.
I hope to know you know when to harvest pumpkins or When to pick pumpkins. If still have any confusion contact us or watch our videos on YouTube.