Seed companies have been introducing pumpkin varieties for flavor and ornamental appeal. Plus, the multitude of sizes and shapes should inspire broader pumpkin uses and boost sales. This season's new and nearly new varieties offer a plethora of colors and sizes.
Not only do growers have a wide choice of pumpkin varieties that promise excellent crops, a range of the newer seed treatments provide pest protection. Seedsmen can give details on which varieties can incorporate this means of increasing yield.
The following medium and large varieties were available to us by press time. The smaller varieties, many with equally impressive attributes, will be listed in a future edition.
Big Doris, with its smooth, deep orange skin averages 30 to 40 pounds. Johnny's Selected Seeds reports that this long-vined hybrid has strong handles that accompany its good shape. Siegers Seed notes its maturity at 100 to 105 days.
New this year from Rupp, Bus Stop targets the school market. With a medium vine, it matures in 90 days. The orange skin of this 12-to-15- pound, 10-by-11-inch hybrid can be easily carved or painted.
Weighing about 30 pounds, thick-fleshed Captain Jack makes a striking jack-o-lantern. Its flat bottom enables it to stand alone, and its extremely large, thick handle adds to its appeal. The large vine of this Sakata pumpkin produces mature fruit in 105 days.
Seedway says that Cougar PMR is reminiscent of Neon pumpkin with its early color. Maturing in only 80 days, its 10-to-12 pound bright orange fruits have the traditional pumpkin shape. Plus, they are uniform and have a sturdy dark green handle. It has high resistance to powdery mildew.
Bred by Sakata, Diablo produces uniformly shaped dark orange pumpkins with strong, dark green embedded handles weighing 16 to 22 pounds Maturing in about 100 days, this jack-o-lantern type has a semi-bush habit.
Earlipack has a restricted vine and intermediate resistance to powdery mildew. The 95-day fruit measures 11.5 by 13 inches and weighs 18 to 22 pounds. The uniform, consistently round, dark orange fruit have slight ribs, and a 4.5-inch strong handle. Seedway lists this variety.
An All America Selections in 2011, Sakata's Hijinks earned the honor with its performance, uniformity and long dark green stem. Blocky, 7.5 by 8 inches, and with square shoulders, it has medium deep ribbing. The orange fruits average 7 to 9 pounds .
Weighing 15 to 18 pounds, round Moonscape has reddish dimpled skin and bright yellow, thick flesh. For carving or as a novelty, NESeeds says this hybrid has a trailing vine habit and produces well, beginning in 100 days.
With pale orange, dimpled skin and a long handle, Mr. Fugly shows considerable appeal when carved. Its developer, DPSeeds, reports high yields and high-quality, bright orange flesh. This 100-day hybrid exhibits a round shape with few ribs and weighs 15 to 20 pounds.
At 100 days, Mrs. Wrinkles weighs 14 to 18 pounds. Its deep, wrinkled ribs and burnt orange color demand attention. Plus, the handle is firmly attached. Harris Seeds says this variety is bound to be a hit for fall ornamental sales.
Rupp's New England Cheddar has a uniform tan rind and deep orange flesh. With its superior dry matter and sugar content, this vining hybrid excels for home processing. Maturing in 112 days, it weighs 15 pounds and measures 8.5 inches high and 12 inches in diameter.
In 85 days, large, round New Moon has white skin and flesh. Weighing 35 to 75 pounds, Stokes Seeds says the vines of this hybrid are more vigorous than Lumina.
Siegers' orange Phat Jack weighs 50-plus pounds. With a tall jack-o'-lantern shape, it matures in 125 days on a medium vine. Rupp Seeds suggests wide spacing.
When mature, DPSeeds-developed Porcelain Doll displays light pink skin and vibrant, sweet orange flesh. It weighs 20 to 24 pounds, and has deep ribs and its shape appears almost square. The full vine of this hybrid has a prolific cover and tolerates powdery mildew. Maturing in 100 days, NESeed recommends it for fund raising, holiday decorations and culinary delights. Plans to funnel a portion of sales revenue for breast cancer research are underway.
Outstanding Seeds' new variety, Rascal PMRR, not only features their most vigorous vine, it sports a pink skin. What's more, a portion of proceeds supports breast cancer research. It weighs 30 to 40 pounds, has dense orange flesh, and matures in 100 days. The deeply furrowed, flat, thick-walled fruits excel in eating quality as well as decorative appeal. It resists powdery mildew, Phytophthora and watermelon mosaic virus.
With a full, trailing vine habit, Ritz, developed by DPSeeds, yields round, oblate reddish-skinned fruits with slight dimpling and few ribs. A hybrid, it produces in 100 days, and weighs 14 to 20 pounds
DPSeeds' Scream II produces 18 pound orange, deeply ribbed, oval pumpkins on a semi-bush vine in 90 days. With excellent yields, this hybrid resists powdery mildew 1 and 2.
Shadow Moon, another DPSeeds hybrid with reddish skin, has moderate speckling and features thick, bright yellow, high quality flesh. Weighing 16 to 18 pounds, this hybrid matures in 100 days from seed emergence.
Flattened and with heavy ribbing, White Knight yields well. Weighing 20 to 30 pounds, it produces in 115 days. Siegers says this orange-fleshed hybrid, trialed as XP-5, shows uniformity.
The author is a writer-researcher specializing in agriculture. She currently resides in central Pennsylvania.