Farming Magazine - April, 2012
Seed Research: More New Pumpkins for Decorating and Eating
This is the second column on new and nearly new pumpkins. The earlier column focused primarily on large specimens and can be found online (http://farmingmagazine.com/article-7884.aspx). This column includes smaller varieties. These and the earlier listings are available from seed dealers. Growers may also find some "designer" pumpkins available locally from non-seed dealers. Please also note that the classification between pumpkins and winter squash is often blurred. The August 2011 column on new winter squashes lists a dozen new varieties.
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Although shades of orange and the familiar jack-o'-lantern shape offer traditional appeal, the diverse shapes, sizes and colors of pumpkins can stimulate sales. New, nearly new and heirloom varieties expand markets with their growing range of ornamental and culinary uses. Fall celebrations naturally draw interest. However, the superior flavor and nutritional qualities of pumpkins and winter squashes, particularly when coupled with easier preparation such as fresh-cut packages, can accelerate demand.
School tours and family expeditions into pumpkin fields have an ever-widening choice of pick-your-own pumpkins, whether for pies or porches. These listings include many specimens fitting for a small child's hands. With the introduction of the Super Freaks and the newer, easily carved varieties, scary decorations joyously bring mischievous fun to Halloween events. Growers can plant an assortment or cultivate an exceptional variety for repeat sales.
Breeders have imparted more resistance to their new varieties, resulting in improved growing ability. Also, powdery mildew-resistant varieties have the additional attribute of longer storage life. Some, but not all, seed companies incorporate the designations for resistance in their names. Growers should check with their seed representatives for any resistance information.
The following were available to us by press time.
Blue Doll is a pale blue version of DPSeeds' new pink Porcelain Doll. With an almost square shape and deep ribs, this eye-catching exotic hybrid weighs 20 to 24 pounds. NESeeds suggests using its sweet, deep orange flesh in culinary delights, particularly pies and soups. With a full vine and prolific plant cover, it matures in 100 days and has powdery mildew tolerance.
Casperita, at 8 ounces to 1 pound, matures in 77 days. By DP Seeds, this classic pumpkin-shaped, deeply ribbed, personal-size hybrid has the flesh and sugars of acorn squash. Green handled and bright white, Casperita excels as an ornamental and in eating quality. Its semi-bush vine resists powdery mildew race 2 and tolerates watermelon mosaic virus.
Hollar Seeds' relatively new PMR series includes Corvette PMR, which resists watermelon mosaic virus and zucchini yellow mosaic potyvirus, as well as powdery mildew virus. Weighing 12 to 15 pounds, this hybrid features a vigorous semi-bush habit. The medium orange, slightly ribbed fruits measure 9.5 inches high and 11 inches wide.
Crunchkin produces 5 to 9 ounces flat, scalloped little pumpkins measuring 3.5 to 4.5 inches in 100 days. Medium-orange with slight flecking, Harris Seeds says its hard shell extends its storage life, allowing sales for Thanksgiving table decorations, as well as fall floral arrangements. In addition, the bush-type vines of this Harris Moran miniature give high yields.
A precocious hybrid, Early Scream gives considerable yields on semi-bush vines. Averaging about 15 pounds, this medium to dark orange oval pumpkin has dark stems and moderate ribs. It matures in 85 days, but can be sold as early as 80 days from seed emergence. Another DP Seeds variety, it tolerates powdery mildew races 1 and 2.
A new pumpkin from Bruce Howden displays the Howden jack-o'-lantern traits. Plant variety protection has been applied for Howden XXX. This 20 to 25-pound specimen has the deep orange color, slightly extended shape and deep ridges famous with all the Howden pumpkins. With a full vine, it matures in 115 days. The flared handle adds eye appeal.
Little Giant, a beautiful, little pie pumpkin weighing 2 to 4 pounds, is smooth enough for painting, yet its ribbing is light enough for jack-o'-lantern carving. Harris Seeds recommends this hybrid for marketing to school field tours. Developed by Harris Moran, the full-size vines have intermediate resistance to powdery mildew.
Flattened and oval but bright orange, Flatso looks like an orange version of a Long Island Cheese pumpkin. Weight is 6 to 8 pounds, diameter is 9 to 10 inches, and height is 5 to 6 inches. With moderate ribbing and thin, dark handles, this DP Seeds hybrid has full-size vines. Harris Seeds suggests it as a unique item for farmers' markets and roadside sales.
Oval-shaped and moderately ribbed, Neon Moon has orange skin and a dark handle. Weighing 2 to 3 pounds, this DP Seeds hybrid has demonstrated intermediate resistance to powdery mildew. Other resistances are being tested. Its semi-bush plant yields well. Neon Moon is equally useful as a novelty or for culinary purposes. It matures in 85 days.
Round, smooth and attractive, Snowball weighs just 2 pounds. Johnny's Selected Seeds notes that it holds its bright white color under stress. It matures in 100 days. The dark green stems contrast nicely with its rind color, adding to its appeal.
Tandy sports a beautiful off-white hue. With excellent yields on a medium vine, this DP Seeds hybrid matures 90 days from seed emergence. This 7-pound, medium-ribbed, oval pumpkin is both edible and ornamental.
WeeeeeOne, a tiny, ribbed ball of orange with a long green stem, weighs only .5 pound. Maturing in 95 days, this new Rupp miniature pumpkin can be used for carving and for an array of indoor decorations. Its vigorous, large, bushy plant has excellent powdery mildew resistance and produces high yields of cute 3-by-3-inch globes.
The author is a writer-researcher specializing in agriculture. She currently resides in central Pennsylvania.