When to harvest pumpkins? How to recognize that the pumpkin is ripe?

A ripe pumpkin is mainly recognized by the petiole which after being green and herbaceous for a long time dries up and gradually becomes woody. When the petiole of the pumpkins is completely dry and woody it is time to detach the fruit because it has certainly stopped receiving water and nourishment from the mother plant, even if this is still green and luxuriant.

Pumpkin is a very interesting plant species, simple to grow, and extremely widespread worldwide. We have prepared a complete and detailed sheet on the pumpkin for you in the Wefrood species section where you can read information and curiosities about the plant and fruit as well as the recipes and what pumpkin is good for and what it hurts.

The pumpkin, Cucurbita muscat, is a plant of Asian origin, perhaps Indian, which has always been cultivated because it is rustic and very productive. In the commercial variety currently grown in Italy, each plant produces about 3 main fruits of large dimensions and a good number of small fruits which, however, often, due to the competition between large fruits with seeds and new fruits, detach and die.

Varieties of pumpkins and differences in ripening

Pumpkins have a high propensity to cross each other and therefore produce “related but different” ecotypes and varieties. Producers are familiar with this feature and know how difficult it is to grow pumpkins from seeds. for this, they turn to specialized nurserymen who are able to supply seeds and pure plants.

Some varieties of pumpkins change color when ripe. In general, the skin of this can change from green to brown but in one variety, the Delica, a yellow spot develops on the point that rests on the ground. In this photo, little Delica has just begun the yellowing process.

This is the signal that together with the petiole indicates that the pumpkin is ripe. On the contrary, the Violin or Hungarian pumpkin becomes only slightly shinier and the skin hardens but shows no changes in color.

In what month do pumpkins ripen

Pumpkins ripen between summer and autumn and more precisely in the months of July, August and September. The exact moment is linked to the time of sowing or transplanting. the pumpkins sown or transplanted in April ripen between the end of July and the month of August. For pumpkin plants transplanted in May, June, or July, ripening begins in August and ends with the end of September. Pumpkins are hardly left in the field after September because the mists and humidity could damage them. Furthermore, in autumn it is difficult to obtain a good post-harvest ripening of the pumpkin fruit.

The ripening of pumpkins after harvest

  • Even if harvested with a dry stalk, it is good practice to make the pumpkins mature a little longer, possibly leaving them in the sun for at least ten days. Leaving the pumpkins in the sun after harvesting has several advantages
  • allows to dry the earth still possibly attached to the skin of the pumpkin and facilitates cleaning,
  • reduces the water content of the pumpkin pulp and automatically increases the sugar content,
  • disinfects the skin from fungi and bacteria which could trigger rot and reduce the possibility of preserving the pumpkin.
  • For the prolonged conservation of the pumpkin, it is then necessary to avoid that it gets moistened with the dews and mists of autumn and that it rests if possible in a dry environment and with the fruits raised from the ground.

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