Harvest and Post-harvest Care for High Quality Pumpkins

​Pumpkin season is here. Keeping up with best management practices through harvest and storage will help the year wrap up on a good note. The steps below are a reminder of actions that can make a difference.

  • Handle fruit as little as possible.
  • Harvest fully orange and healthy pumpkins. Half-orange pumpkins may turn orange but quality and storage life will be reduced.
  • Use a sharp knife or loppers to cut pumpkins from the vine. Leave stems long enough for an attractive product.
  • Carry the pumpkin like a ball, not by the stem, or ‘handle.’
  • Brush off soil that sticks to the pumpkin.
  • If pumpkins are washed, include a labeled sanitizer in the wash water and dry pumpkins before storage.
  • Place pumpkins carefully in crates, bins, or trucks, so that the stem of one pumpkin doesn’t damage the rind of another.
  • Watch for and avoid (or pad) sharp edges that could damage pumpkins rinds.
  • Store pumpkins in a shaded location out of the rain if possible.
  • Store pumpkins on pallets or other material to keep them off the ground or floor, if possible.
  • Avoid stacking pumpkins to reduce damage to the fruit.
  • Protect from frost and temperatures below 45°F by covering with tarp or moving to a protected area.
  • Keep ideal storage conditions in mind and get as close as possible: 50-55°F and 50-70% relative humidity. Below 50°F chilling injury is possible.
  • Keep away from sources of ethylene, such as apples, ripening tomatoes, and improperly operating heaters.
  • Teach best practices to everyone who handles pumpkins on your farm.
Pumpkins cut from vine.

Pumpkins cut from vine.

Pumpkins on a trailer.

Pumpkins on a trailer.

Pumpkin harvesters.

Pumpkin harvesters.

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