When to Harvest Pumpkins

By Meredith Berg , last updated April 22, 2011

Pumpkins are not only easy to grow, they are also easy to harvest. Here's a guide to simplify your pumpkin harvesting.

Which Pumpkin to Grow

If you’re looking to grow the classic Halloween pumpkins for carving Jack-O-Lanterns, then plant the “Connecticut Field” pumpkin. For sweeter pumpkins that are perfect for soups, casseroles and pies, plant the “Sugar Pumpkin.”

Help the Pumpkin Ripen

Pumpkins get their beautiful orange color from growing on the vine and full sunshine. Take care to ensure that your pumpkin is getting direct sunlight.

When your pumpkin is the color you desire, test it for readiness. The best way to test it is to try and push your fingernail through the shell. If the shell is too tough to penetrate, your pumpkin is ready to harvest. You can also check the stems of the pumpkin, which normally start splitting when a pumpkin is ready to cut.

You also have the option of allowing the pumpkin to finish its own process. The vine will shrivel up when the pumpkin is ready. However, there is no need to wait this long if the shell is already hard.

Curing Your Pumpkin

After harvesting the pumpkin, put it in full sunshine to cure it for ten days. Be careful not to place pumpkins on top of each other, because they can rot.

Curing is not mandatory. If you’d like to enjoy your pumpkin right away, you can carve into it as soon as you’ve removed it from the vine.

Storing Your Pumpkin

If you’d like a fresh pumpkin later in the season, store your harvested pumpkins in a dark area that is fifty to sixty degrees. They can last up to six months in storage. If your pumpkin shows any signs of rotting, throw it away immediately.

Following these simple steps you will be able to harvest your pumpkin at the perfect time.

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