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Date: September 9, 2020
Agent: Donna Teasley

Hello, this is Donna Teasley, horticulture agent with the North Carolina Cooperative
Extension, Burke County Center.

Fall is coming closer each day and as gardens wind down for the year, many folks have pumpkins that are beginning to turn orange and the big question that is coming in to my office is how do I know when my pumpkin is ready to pick?

Actually that’s a pretty good question. There are several ways to tell if your pumpkin is ripe. First, the color will tell a lot. When the color is nice and bright, that is a good sign that it is ready to harvest. Thump the pumpkin. If it has a hollow sound, that is a sign of ripeness and if the skin feels hard, sort of like a shell then the pumpkin should be ripe.

To keep a pumpkin looking good after harvest there are some things that should be done. Mix a 10 percent solution of bleach and dip the pumpkin in the solution. This gets rid of bacteria that naturally occurs to make the pumpkin rot. Always cut the pumpkin with a good handle for moving it around. After cutting, the pumpkin needs to be cured in a warm room with high humidity for about ten days. Afterwards keep your pumpkin out of the sun but never sit it directly on the ground or cement. Use a piece of cardboard underneath the pumpkin. These steps should keep your pumpkin looking good for two or three months. Sometimes a coating of food grade wax may be applied or if the pumpkin is not being used for food, a coat
of shellac works great.

This is Donna Teasley with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Burke County Center. If you would like more information about this program, you can call us at 439-4460.