Will Pumpkins Ripen Off The Vine? Pumpkin Maturity And Harvesting Tips!

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We love harvesting pumpkins fresh from our garden nearly every year! Picking these colorful gourds at the correct time is the key to flawless autumn recipes and decorations. Understanding the ripening process off-vine is also helpful for harvesting mature, plump, and juicy pumpkins with ripe orange fruit and sweet flavor.

Many colorful varieties of pumpkins resting on the grass.

In this guide, we will explore the different stages of the pumpkin ripening process, what to do if you harvest your pumpkin a tad bit too early, how to tell if pumpkins are ripe, and how to speed up the ripening and curing process off-vine if needed.

Let’s examine these ideas.

Shall we?

Will Mature Pumpkins Ripen Off The Vine?

Orange and blue pumpkins curing and ripening on a wooden table.

Yes! If stored correctly, mature pumpkins quickly ripen off the vine. The secrets to ripening a pumpkin off the vine are a warm temperature and dry environment. And it only works if the pumpkins are mature! Pumpkins are usually mature when they reach deep orange, but their final hue varies according to the pumpkin variety. (Most mature pumpkins are a solid orange color. But others are red, blue, or black!)

Read More – How Many Pumpkins Per Plant To Get The Best Yield + Growing Tips!

Will Immature Pumpkins Ripen Off The Vine?

Large green pumpkin growing in the summer garden.

But what about immature pumpkins? What happens if your pumpkins are immature and an overnight frost threatens them? Will immature pumpkins ripen off the vine? The answer is no, they will not! But, we say still harvest them and bring them in. Here’s why. While these pumpkins will never be as ripe as fully mature ones, their color and flavor can improve if you let them rest and cure indoors for a few weeks.

How To Ripen And Cure Pumpkins

Colorful pumpkins and gourds after a successful harvest.

Whether you harvest mature or immature pumpkins, the ripening and curing process is the same.

  1. First, carefully cut the pumpkin stem about an inch from the pumpkin.
  2. Then, clean the pumpkin with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or fungus spores.
  3. Next, place the pumpkin on a dry, sunny spot inside your home, such as a sunny windowsill, sunroom, bright room, kitchen table, or counter.
  4. Pumpkins will ripen faster if stored at 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 50 to 70% humidity.
  5. After two weeks, polish your pumpkin with a thin olive oil layer using a food-grade brush or cloth. Doing so helps lock moisture in the pumpkin, making it perfect for long-term display.

After a few weeks, your mature pumpkins will be 100% ripe and cured. You’ll notice the pumpkin skins harden. In this state, your pumpkins will last for months, at least until Christmas!

Again, we remind you that you can always harvest immature pumpkins. While they may never be as delicious as a fully mature pumpkin, their color and flavor may improve after letting them rest indoors for a week or two.

You can also ripen pumpkins directly on the vine if your growing season lets you. To ripen pumpkins to maturity, they should be left on the vine until the stems dry and turn brown. Pumpkins exposed to frost damage may not ripen and may only remain green. But if the weather is warm, your job is easy. Just keep them on the vine until the vine dies.

Read More – 36 Fun And Creative Pumpkin Face Carving Ideas

Factors Affecting Pumpkin Ripeness

Massive ginger pumpkin harvested in the garden and ready for curing.

Light, air circulation, temperature, and timing are crucial factors that impact pumpkin ripeness. Let’s examine them in closer detail.

Direct Sunlight

Orange and green pumpkins growing and ripening in the field.

Direct sunlight is the top variable for ripening pumpkins. The sun’s rays are essential for providing energy to the pumpkin plant, enabling it to produce the sugars that give the pumpkin its mature color. Without direct sunlight, pumpkin fruits may remain green or be slow to ripen.

Remember that pumpkins look like the sun because they are sun worshippers! (Lol. That’s our experience, at least.) For optimal pumpkin ripening, the plants should receive at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily

Sunlight also helps keep pumpkin leaves dry, as wet pumpkin foliage is famous for white spores and fungus, which is unsuitable for your pumpkin harvest.

Air Circulation

Large pumpkin harvest containing many orange and healthy pumpkins.

Sunlight isn’t the only way to fight white pumpkin mold and powdery mildew. Air circulation also helps, big time.

Moisture buildup can occur when pumpkins endure humid and stagnant air, which can cause the fruit to become saturated and prone to rotting. However, with good air circulation, excess moisture can be carried away from the fruit, preventing rotting and maintaining a dry and healthy environment.

Air circulation can also help prevent or stop fungus spores and other pathogens harmful to the fruit. When the air is circulating, it reduces the likelihood of fungal growth and increases the chances of the pumpkins staying healthy throughout the ripening process.

Read More – How To Save Pumpkin Seeds For Planting [From Store Bought Or Homegrown!]

Time From Harvest To Ripening

Tiny pumpkins resting on a table next to a canvas bag.

Pumpkins need a certain number of daylight hours to ripen fully. The ripening process may slow down as the days get shorter in the fall. One trick to speed up the process is to expose your harvested pumpkins to direct sunlight for several hours each day by moving them to avoid shady spots in your yard or garden. (It’s not always possible, but it’s worth considering.)

Most pumpkin cultivars require around 80 to 120 days to ripen. But some massive cultivars might demand more than that, upwards of 160 days. When in doubt, check the days to maturity label on the pumpkin seed packet.

Temperature And Humidity

Healthy pumpkins growing in the garden.

Several other factors, including temperature and humidity, can influence the pumpkin’s ripening process. Cooler temperatures will slow ripening, while warmer temperatures will speed it up. Pumpkins in a sunny spot will almost always ripen faster than those growing in a cooler, shadier area.

Humidity level is another crucial factor in the ripening process. Pumpkins ripen and cure best in a well-ventilated area to prevent mold growth, but not too dry as they can dry out and become shriveled. The ideal humidity level ranges from 50 to 70%.

Read More – Pumpkin Growing Stages – Your Ultimate Guide To What To Do When

Protection From Pests & Diseases

Pumpkin plant growing with a powdery mildew infestation.

Pumpkin plants are susceptible to diseases and pests that damage the vine and the fruit before they ripen. Common pumpkin pests include squash bugs and vine borers, while powdery mildew and downy mildew are common plant diseases.

Practice good garden hygiene, like removing plant debris and pruning vines to improve air circulation. While pruning, watch the underside of the pumpkin leaves for red insect eggs belonging to the infamous squash bug.

Another effective way to keep pests at bay is by covering the pumpkin plants with plastic sheeting or netting. This method can help prevent squash bugs and vine borers from laying eggs on the pumpkin leaves, reducing the risk of damage to the fruit.

Powdery mildew and downy mildew are common fungal diseases that can cause the pumpkin leaves to fade and die. To prevent these diseases, keep the leaves dry and the environment well-ventilated. Applying a dilute neem oil solution to the leaves can also help kill fungus spores and prevent further contamination.

Read More – Best Wood Materials For Raised Garden Beds: Top 5 Materials For A Lush Garden

Selecting The Right Variety Of Pumpkin

Fresh and bright orange pumpkins resting on a wooden table.

When selecting a suitable variety of pumpkins to ripen off the vine, there are two main categories: pie and carving. Pie pumpkins are more miniature, have thicker flesh and a sweeter taste, and ripen earlier. They are ideal for baking, cooking, and making pumpkin purees.

On the other hand, carving pumpkins are gigantic and have thinner flesh. They are best suited for carving and decorating but lack flavor and texture as culinary ingredients.

Some popular varieties of pumpkins for vine ripening include sugar pumpkinsConnecticut field pumpkins, and Cinderella pumpkins. Sugar or pie pumpkins are a smaller variety that ripens in around 90 to 100 days. Connecticut field pumpkins are an enormous variety with a deep orange color that ripens in around 100 to 120 daysCinderella pumpkins, or Rouge Vif d’Etampes, are a French variety with a flat, ribbed shape and a deep red-orange color. These pumpkins ripen in around 100 to 110 days.

Consider your needs when selecting a suitable variety of pumpkins. For culinary purposes, go with pie pumpkins. For decoration, choose carving pumpkins. If you have a particular use in mind, such as making a specific dish or decorating for a holiday, choose a variety that will ripen in time and have a good shelf life.

Our favorite pumpkin cultivars and their maturity dates:

  • Autumn Gold – Mature in 100 to 120 days.
  • Magician – Mature in 98 to 100 days.
  • Baby Bear – Mature in 100 to 115 days.
  • Winter Luxury – Mature in 95 days.
  • Dill’s Atlantic Giant – Mature in 130 days.
  • Merlin – Mature in 100 to 120 days.
  • Jack Be Little – Mature in 90 days.
  • Musquee De Provence – Mature in 120 days.
  • Gladiator – Mature in up to 120 days.

We’ve only grown a tiny handful of the above cultivars. Remember, each one is slightly different and will add majesty to your summer garden and autumn harvest.

Will pumpkins ripen off the vine pumpkin maturity and harvesting tips.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading our guide about whether or not pumpkins ripen off the vine. We hope our guide settles the debate!

Mature pumpkins will 100% ripen off the vine. There’s no question! And, while immature pumpkins may never ripen to the extent mature pumpkins do, they still might improve their flavor and color if given time to cure. Therefore, it’s always worth it to harvest your pumpkins if a premature frost forces you to do so!

What about you?

  • Are you growing pumpkins in your garden this year?
  • Which pumpkin cultivar is your favorite?
  • Do you have a short growing zone? If so, look for a pumpkin with a fast maturity date!
  • Do you use your pumpkins for fall festivities? Baking? Or as decoration?
  • Have you ever tried homemade pumpkin pie?

We love growing pumpkins. They’re a tragically underrated garden crop!

We also hope to hear from like-minded gourd growers.

Thanks again for reading.

Have a great day!

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