AHEIA - Providing leadership to support and strengthen Australia's trade in horticultural produce.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin

History

Pumpkins have been cultivated for more than 5000 years. They are believed to have originated in Central America. Pumpkin seeds were carried by explorers and nomadic tribes and eventually spread to Asia and Europe.

What are they

Pumpkins are members of the Cucurbitaceae family which also includes cucumbers, gourds, melons, squash and zucchinis. Pumpkins can vary in colour from white to yellow to orange to green.

How are they grown

Pumpkins are frost sensitive and need frost-free growing periods of 4 to 5 months. High temperatures (above 35C) and low humidity are not conducive to high yields. Temperatures of 20C to 35C are ideal for maximum production.

The seeds develop into a vine with tendrils that grow along the ground and wrap around all obstacles that they encounter. Male and female flowers are produced on a single plant, with bees and other insects transferring pollen between flowers.

Where are they grown

All over Australia

Variety

Butternut, Windsor Black, Queensland Blue, Jarrahdale, Sweet Grey

How to know when they are ripe

It takes about 24 weeks before the pumpkin plant is mature and the pumpkins are ready for harvest. A cracked, dried stalk indicates that the pumpkins are ready for picking. Depending on the variety, the skin (rind) also changes colour as the pumpkin matures.

Seasonality

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

Jul

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

Pumpkin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local market

Fresh consumption and processed

Storage

Pumpkins for storage must be sound and should be handled with great care. Any bruise will soon develop a rot, which can spread through the stack. The ideal storage is a rat proof shed, built well off the ground, preferably at the level of a motor truck tray. Provide plenty of shelves to allow free circulation of air inside the shed.

In areas not subject to severe frost, pumpkins can be stored satisfactorily under heavily-foliaged cypress hedges, but for long storage pumpkins must be stored at temperatures above 7°C or breakdown caused by cold damage will occur.

Nutrition

  • Pumpkin is an excellent source of beta-carotene, which gets converted to vitamin A in the body, and vitamin C.
  • It also contains dietary fibre and minerals such as potassium (which helps to regulate blood pressure) and manganese (involved in the regulation of brain and nerve function).

Packaging

Most growers sell their pumpkins in bulk, by the kilogram. Butternut pumpkins are usually sold in 20 kg red net bags or fibreboard cartons

Other uses

Both the seeds (roasted) and flowers are edible.

References

Better Health Victoria https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ingredientsprofiles/Pumpkin (January 2016)  

Queensland Department of Primary Industries http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/311485/Pumpkin-production.pdf (January 2016)