We have had a really funny autumn this year. It is only a little over a week till winter but many of our trees have only just properly changed colour. Normally most would have lost their leaves by now! I am pretty sure that this late autumn is to blame for some of our butternut pumpkins splitting!
We had a cool spell plus quite a bit of rain early in autumn but the last few weeks have been fairly mild. It seems that might have been enough to trick the butternut pumpkins into having a growth spurt. From what I have read, once your butternut pumpkins have started to harden off any growth spurt will cause them to split.
The more I think about it the more I realise that I could have prevented the butternut pumpkins splitting. That’s because a few weeks ago our butternut pumpkins started producing female flowers again. All the tiny butternut pumpkins growing in the autumn looked really cute. But that was probably a sure sign that the spring like conditions would induce a growth spurt!
Now we have about five pumpkins that have split. It is a bit annoying after spending so long looking after the vines over summer. This is the first year that we have had a problem with our pumpkins splitting. In past years the autumn chill has set in earlier and we have harvested the pumpkins without any problems. See How to Harvest and Store Pumpkins.
If the splits are fairly shallow they will most likely heal as suberin (natural pumpkin scab) fills the split. If the splits get a scab then they should be still fine to store and use. A couple of ours have deeper splits and they don’t seem to be scabbing over. These split butternut pumpkins will not store well so we are going to use them up first. Lots of butternut pumpkin recipes coming up for us!
From now on I will be on the lookout for conditions that might cause a growth spurt in the pumpkins.
How to Prevent Butternut Pumpkins Splitting
- Make sure the pumpkin vines are planted in a well-drained position.
- Fertilize the plants early as the vines are developing, don’t fertilize past the middle of the growing season.
- Consider picking the pumpkins after late season heavy rain once they have started to harden off.
- Consider Picking the pumpkins if you see signs of growth in the pumpkins when they should be finishing off (such as if they start producing small fruit during autumn).