When to Pick Pumpkins in Australia? (Top 5 Tips For Gardeners)

Pumpkins are a true Aussie favourite, and can be harvested from a single plant with some key points to keep in mind. Not only can they be enjoyed all season long, but with proper storage they can even last into the new year without any fancy facilities.

The pumpkin harvest season in Australia typically runs from July to August, but it’s important to remember that the timing can vary depending on a few different factors.

For miniature pumpkins like Golden Nugget pumpkins, the harvest season can be relatively short, at just 30 to 40 days after flowering.

However, in reality, a pumpkin’s growth is influenced by the weather and the end of the rainy season, so you’ll need to keep an eye on your plants to decide when to harvest.

In my experience, the sweet spot for harvesting pumpkins is typically around four to five days during the harvest season.

Waiting too long or harvesting too early can affect the quality of the pumpkin, making it less sweet or even watery. It can be tough to tell when they’re just right, but with a little practice you’ll soon get the hang of it.

When To Pick Pumpkins in Australia

Here are some key points to consider when harvesting pumpkins in Australia:

1- Knock on Your Pumpkin

Another way to tell if your pumpkin is ready to be harvested is to knock on it. If it sounds hollow, it is ready to harvest.

Pumpkins are ripe when they sound hollow when tapped and the skin can no longer be scored with a finger.

The stems will now have a woody appearance. The richer the color of the pumpkin, the more vitamin-rich and flavorful it is.

2- Check the Color and Firmness of the Rind

When it comes to harvesting pumpkins, another way to tell if they’re ready is to check the color and firmness of the rind. The rind is the tough outer skin of the pumpkin.

To see if it’s ready, have a look at the color of the rind. It should have lost its shine and be a darker shade of green. That’s a sign that the pumpkin is fully matured and ready to be picked.

Another thing to check is the firmness of the rind. You can test this by trying to scratch it with your fingernail.

If the rind is easily damaged, it’s not ready yet. But if the rind is tough and doesn’t show any signs of damage from your fingernail, then it’s good to go!

Wait for the Corking Process

The best time to harvest pumpkins is when the area around the calyx near the skin becomes hard like cork and the calyx above it is also cork-colored.

The calyx is the little green bit on top of the pumpkin where the stem comes out. As the pumpkin matures, this green bit will start to dry out and turn brown, kind of like cork.

This corking process is a sign that the pumpkin is fully matured and ready to be harvested.

So, if you want to get the most out of your pumpkin, wait until you see the corking and then go ahead and pick it. That way, you’ll get the best flavor and texture from your pumpkin.

Don’t Pick Pumpkins Early or Late

If you harvest pumpkins early just because they look ready, they will lose taste and quality. Early-grown pumpkins have a thin outer skin that is easily damaged, resulting in poor shelf life.

They also tend to be watery and less sweet. On the other hand, if picked too late, the skin can turn brown from exposure to the summer heat, or over-ripen and rot. So, be patient and wait for the corking process.

Timing and Weather

Timing is crucial when it comes to harvesting pumpkins, and it’s essential to check the weather forecast before you start.

In Australia, the pumpkin harvest season is generally from July to August, but the exact timing depends on factors such as the weather and the end of the rainy season.

It’s best to avoid harvesting pumpkins during long rainy periods, which typically occur from early to mid-July, as they can increase the risk of rotting.

Instead, wait for dry, sunny days to harvest your pumpkins. It’s also advisable to do the harvesting around 9:00 a.m. when the morning dew has dried up, ensuring a drier, better harvest.

How long do pumpkins take to grow in Australia?

In Australia, the time it takes for a pumpkin to grow can vary depending on several factors, including the variety of pumpkin, the climate, and the growing conditions.

Popular pumpkin varieties in Australia include the Butternut, Jap, Kent, and Queensland Blue.

Generally speaking, it takes between 80 to 120 days from the time a pumpkin flower appears until the fruit is ready to harvest. However, this can vary depending on the variety of pumpkin and the growing conditions.

Hold on to your hats, mates! I’ve got a list of ripper pumpkin varieties that Aussies love to grow. These beauties come with their average harvest periods, but fair dinkum, it all depends on the weather and the mood of the pumpkin gods!

VarietyDays to FloweringDays to HarvestTotal Days to Harvest
Queensland Blue50-60100-120150-180
Golden Nuggets45-5580-100125-155
Red Kuri50-6090-110140-170
Turk’s Turban50-6090-110140-170

In Australia, the climate can have a significant impact on the growth time of pumpkins. For example, in the cooler southern regions of Australia, pumpkins may take longer to grow due to lower temperatures and shorter growing seasons.

In contrast, in the warmer northern regions of Australia, pumpkins may have a shorter growing period due to higher temperatures and longer growing seasons.

Additionally, pumpkins require a lot of water and nutrients to grow, so the quality of the soil and the amount of rainfall or irrigation they receive can also impact their growth time.

In areas with dry or sandy soil, pumpkins may take longer to grow, while in areas with rich, fertile soil, pumpkins may grow more quickly.

How to Harvest Pumpkin Correctly

If you’re wondering how to harvest a pumpkin correctly, listen up! You can’t just use any old knife, mate. You need a pair of secateurs to get the job done. Trust me; I learned this the hard way.

The pumpkin grows with its stem on a tendril, so you’ve got to be careful when you cut it off. You wanna leave a little piece of the stem attached to the pumpkin.

Don’t go yanking it off by the stem, mate! That’s a rookie mistake. If the stem is gone, the pumpkin will start rotting faster than a prawn left out in the sun.

Now, when you’re storing a bunch of pumpkins together, you don’t want them bumping and bruising each other like rowdy footy players.

So, cut those stems as short as possible, mate! Especially with the butternut pumpkin, it’s delicate like a flower, so you’ve got to handle it with care.

The Pumpkins Were Harvested Prematurely. What Should Be Done Now?

Oh no, you jumped the gun and harvested your pumpkins too early? No worries, mate!

You can still enjoy ’em by cooking them up like you would with some young veggies, like zucchinis. It’s all good, you’ll still get that delicious pumpkin flavor.

On the other hand, picking your pumpkins too early can also have negative effects on their taste and quality.

Early-grown pumpkins have a thin outer skin that is easily damaged, resulting in poor shelf life. They also tend to be watery and less sweet. 

When Is The Best Time to Eat Harvested Pumpkins? Do They Need To Ripen More?

While some fruits and vegetables can continue to ripen after they’re picked, this is not the case with pumpkins. Once a pumpkin is harvested, it will not continue to ripen.

It’s important to ensure that you harvest your pumpkins when they’re fully matured, as they won’t get any sweeter or more flavorful once they’re off the vine. 

And here’s a little tip: air-dry those pumpkins at room temperature for at least 10 days after harvesting, and watch that starch turn into sugar.

You’ll have yourself some ripper pumpkins that are sweeter than a lamington at a Sunday barbie!

Should You Pick Pumpkins as Soon as They Turn Orange?

While it might seem logical to pick your pumpkins as soon as they turn orange, this is not always the best time to harvest them.

As we’ve discussed, the corking of the calyx and the firmness of the rind are both important factors to consider when deciding when to harvest your pumpkins. So, don’t be tempted to pick your pumpkins too early because they’ve turned orange.

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