As indicated by their orange/yellow flesh, many pumpkins are high in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A with antioxidant properties. Vitamin A is important for healthy eyes, skin, bones and teeth, and for proper immune system function. Many pumpkins are also rich in vitamins B and E and in calcium. The seeds contain essential amino acids and iron. Pumpkin skins, flesh, seeds, and leaves can all be cooked and eaten (What more could you want from a vegetable?). This versatile vegetable source also can be stored for up to several months if the fruit is left on the vine until it has hardened and then put in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Previous ECHO pumpkin variety trials (in 2002 and 2006) focused on tropical pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata). For this most recent trial in autumn 2011, we chose to evaluate two of our long-standing top performers (C. moschata ‘Lloyd Marsh’ and ‘Acorn’) along with new possibilities from C. moschata, C. pepo, C. mixta, and C. maxima. We planted three replications of each cultivar, with 10 plants in each plot.
Table 1 lists the varieties we tested, as well as the yield per plot and number of seeds per pumpkin. Unexpected rains in October provided a perfect chance to test the well-known disease-resistance and heat and humidity tolerance of the Cucurbita moschata species. The C. moschata cultivars performed best under the heavy fungal and disease pressure accompanied with the high humidity and rainfall at the end of our Florida rainy season. The results in Table 1 show that C. moschata “Lloyd Marsh” produced significantly more flesh (excluding the rind) per plot of ten plants and significantly more seeds per pumpkin that other cultivars in the trial.
‘Acorn’ (C. moschata), second in flesh weight per plot and seeds per pumpkin, ranked highest in the taste test (further details following) with comments of “very sweet & delicious” and “great texture and color.” ‘Guatemalan Blue’ (C. maxima) and ‘Thai Small’ (C. moschata) ranked next in flavor, texture, and color. Top producer ‘Lloyd Marsh’ (C. moschata) has also been well enjoyed in stews, soups, and baked dishes.
We conducted a blind taste test with eleven participants that ate pieces of baked pumpkin flesh from each variety. Each person ranked the varieties overall and provided comments about taste, texture, and color.
|Variety||Flesh Weight (g/plot)||Seeds (no./pumpkin)|
|Cucurbita moschata 'Lyod Marsh'||1463 a||676 a|
|Cucurbita moschata 'Acorn'||534 b||391 b|
|Cucurbita moschata 'Noob Taub'||337 b||352 b|
|Cucurbita moschata 'Thai Small'||345 b||299 bc|
|Cucurbita maxima 'Guatamalan Blue'||225 b||186 bc|
|Cucurbita Maxima 'Jarrahdale'||158 b||331 b|
|Cucurbita mixta 'Cushaw White'||428 b||66 c|
|Cucurbita pepo 'Pacheco'||80 b||180 bc|
|Cucurbita (unknown sp) 'Jack-Be-Little'||51 b||88 c|
|*Each number in this table is a mean (average) of three values. Within each column of means, at least two are statistically different from each other because the corresponding P value for each column is <0.05. To show which means are different from each other, each number is followed by one or more letters based on Duncan’s Multiple Range Test. Within each column, any two values are statistically different if none of the letters following them are the same.|
‘Guatemalan Blue’ (C. maxima) has a long, blue, banana-shaped fruit, weighing about 10 lbs with orange, firm flesh. Its thick seeds are excellent when roasted. ‘Thai Small’ (C. moschata) is from Thailand and does well in tropical climates. The rind is ribbed and dark green with orange flesh. This variety ranked highly in the taste test.
ECHO’s seed bank will continue to offer seeds of C. moschata (‘Lloyd Marsh’ and ‘Acorn’), and will be adding C. moschata ‘Thai Small’ and C. maxima ‘Guatemalan Blue’. Visit www.ECHOcommunity.org for information on how to request a trial packet of one or more of these cultivars. ECHO’s seed bank will fill orders depending on available quantities. We also encourage you to try growing local varieties of squash and pumpkins. For more on cultivar crossing, see the book, Breed Your Own Vegetables, by Carol Deppe.
Kautz, A. and T. Chapman 2012. Pumpkin Varieties to Try. ECHO Development Notes no. 116