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Pumpkins

Squash

Importance to Oregon

Pumpkins grow in the Willamette Valley region of Oregon. In 2018, there was 2,600 acres of pumpkins harvested. The total monetary value of pumpkins was $9.8 million dollars. In 2018, the Daletas’ family entered a pumpkin that was grown in Pleasant Hill, Oregon to compete in the Bauman’s Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off. Their pumpkin won the contest at an astonishing 2,157.5 pounds! A pumpkin grown that large right here in our own state!

History of Pumpkins

It is believed that pumpkins first started growing in North America 5,000 years ago. Seeds from relative plants of the pumpkin were found in Mexico from the time period of 7000 to 5500 BC. Pumpkins have been referenced for many centuries. The word “pumpkin” originated from the Greek word “pepon” which means “large melon.” This Greek word was changed from “pepon” to the French version of “pompon.” The French word was then changed from “pompon” to “pumpion.” The final name change for this crop went from “pumpion” to what we all know now as the “pumpkin.”

Pumpkins were used by the Native American Indians as a very important part of their diet for many centuries before the pilgrims arrived. Whatever they didn’t eat, they dried and used to weave into mats.

Decorative Pumpkins

Miniature pumpkins are mostly used for decorative purposes but some varieties can also be used for baking. This variety of pumpkin grows in about 95 days.

Some of the varieties that are both decorative and for baking are

  • Sweetie Pie
  • Jack Be Little
  • Small Sugar
  • Mini Jack Munchkin
  • Baby Boo

Small to Medium Pumpkins

The small to medium sized pumpkins are usually 5 to 10 pounds in weight and they take about 110 days to grow to their full size.

Some varieties of small to medium pumpkins are:

  • Triple Threat
  • Spirit
  • Jack O’ Lantern
  • Spookie
  • Autumn Gold

Medium to Large Pumpkins

Medium to large pumpkins are usually 10-25 pounds and take around 120 days to get to their average size. Some of the medium to large pumpkin varieties are:

  • Howden and Kentucky Field
  • Jack Pot
  • Wizzard
  • Oz
  • Connecticut Field
  • Happy Jack

Mammoth Pumpkins

Some varieties of pumpkins can grow to weigh 100 pounds or more! These pumpkins are called “Mammoth Pumpkins” and they can take between 110 and 120 days to be completely ripe.

Some Mammoth Pumpkin varieties include:

  • Big Max
  • Big Moon
  • Prizewinner Hybrid

Life Cycle of a Pumpkin

A pumpkin has a pretty similar life cycle to that of melons. It starts as a seed, the seed sprouts, the sprout then turns into a vine. Flowers start to grow from the vines and the fruit begins to grow. A green pumpkin will grow first and that is the unripe fruit. Once the green pumpkin turns to the iconic orange color, the pumpkin is ready to be harvested. It takes a pumpkin between 45 and 55 days to grow to the ripe pumpkin size and color.

Pumpkin Harvesting

Pumpkins are harvested in different ways depending on the size of the operation. Smaller farms harvest pumpkins by cutting each pumpkin off of the vine and then leaving them in the field to be collected and stored. For commercial pumpkin growers, getting the newly cut pumpkins out of the field and into storage is important to ensure that the product doesn’t become rotten due to too much rain or become sunburned while spending more time in the patch.

Pumpkins grown at a pumpkin patch are often cut off of the vine and then left in the fields so that visitors are able to go and pick their favorite pumpkin from the patch. Pumpkins at these patches are cut off the vine not far in advance to ensure they do not rot so the consumer has plenty of options to choose from.

Click this play button here to watch how one farm harvests their pumpkins!

Pests and Diseases

Just like all other plants, pumpkins are susceptible to many different pests and diseases. Pumpkin growers have to do their best to manage these pests in a way that is best fit for their operation. Read below to see just one example of a disease that affects pumpkins.

Southern blight

Southern blight is a fungal disease that attacks the leaves and the pumpkin itself in a very aggressive way. This fungus can live in the soil for a long period of time and is best managed by removing the rotting pumpkins and by making sure there is enough air circulation and space between all of the plants.

Vine Borers

Vine borers are a type of moth that lays its eggs in the vines and when they are at an adult age they start to “bore” into the stems. The adult vine borers come out in the early to mid summer and that is when they lay the new set of eggs. The cycle of eggs burrowing themselves starts all over again. When they take over the vines, the plants begin to weaken and the plants will end up dying. Holes at the base of the plant shows that the stem has been chewed up and that the larvae has been there. The larvae eats the inside part of a pumpkin stem. If vine borer eggs are not found early on they will most likely be too far into their developmental stage and it will be hard to get rid of them.

Angular Leaf Spot

Angular leaf spot is caused by a bacteria that can be spread through infected seeds, the rain, bugs and people walking through pumpkin plants. This bacteria stays in the crop debris, such as leaves and foliage on the ground, for up to two and a half years. This bacteria appears as small water spots between the leaf veins. The lesions expand and change into a sharp shape design. The shapes turn into a tan and sometimes yellow color.

Uses

Jack O' Lantern

A common Halloween time tradition is to use pumpkins to create scary jack o’lanterns to display.

Desserts

One product of pumpkin is canned pumpkin or pumpkin puree that can be used for food or desserts. Pumpkin pie is one of the classic desserts that pumpkin is used for.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a great snack and a great way to not waste the entire middle of your pumpkin!

Vocabulary Terms

A climbing or trailing woody-stemmed plant of the grape family.

Greek word meaning large melon.

French word for pumpkin.

AITC Resources

The Great Pumpkin Story

Math & Science Pumpkins

Pumpkin Pie in a Bag

These are just a few of the resources we have available in regards to pumpkins. If you would like to see all of the resources we offer please click this link:

https://oregonaitc.org/?s=pumpkin