Early Maturing Pumpkins and Winter Squash
We have been receiving questions lately from growers who are experiencing early color and ripening of their pumpkins and winter squash. The warm growing season experienced in some areas this season, has caused the fruit to ripen much quicker than expected.
The best way to handle this situation is: If the vines are still healthy, leave the fruit on the vines and keep the vines alive for as long as possible. Scout for disease and insect pressure weekly and spray as needed. As the vines die down, let the fruit cure in the field for 10-14 days. The curing process will harden of the skin which will allow the fruit to store longer.
If the weather turns bad, the fruit can be harvested and moved into a warm location (75-80° F.) to help the curing process. After the curing process is complete, the fruit can be sprayed or washed with a 10% chlorine solution to remove any soil and to destroy any fungus and/or bacteria that may be on the fruit surface.
Be sure the fruit is completely dry before placing them into storage. The recommended storage conditions for squash and pumpkins are 55° F. temperature with a relative humidity of 65-75%. Also, good air circulation is essential for long term storage. Be sure to only store the best quality fruit. Storing poor quality fruit with good quality fruit can be disastrous as fruit rots can spread quickly in storage areas.