Passionate about Pumpkins!

With all the shapes, textures and colors of pumpkins available, pumpkin enthusiasts are finding it easier than ever to find the right pumpkin for any occasion, whether it be decorating, carving, eating or entertaining.

Fall arrives and the hunt begins — pumpkin hunting that is. Consumers have to find the perfect pumpkin, one small enough for a party favor, warty enough for a cornucopia arrangement or large enough for a wide-toothed grin. Whatever the situation, whatever the occasion, Sakata has a pumpkin variety that fits right in with whatever the imagination can dream up.

Carved, Etched, Bejeweled and Decked-Out Masterpieces

Carved jack-o’-lantern designs have evolved in recent years, maturing from simple faces to intricate patterns and Halloween scenes thanks to new tools like drills, jigsaws and Dremels. Sakata’s 18-22 lb. Diablo is a first-rate carving pumpkin or try Mr. Wrinkles for a unique, wrinkled look. Both varieties have plenty of room for carved designs. In addition, etched pumpkins are a hot trend right now and a great alternative to carving.

For those who aren’t into pumpkin seeds and guts, uncarved pumpkins have become the canvas for everything from paint, glue and glitter to buttons, beads, faux jewels and flowers. Stencils are commonly used to add painted messages, monograms and intriguing designs. When painting pumpkins, smoother-skinned varieties work better than deeply ribbed ones. They handle stencils better and designs stand out more. A smaller pumpkin like Rockafellow works well for painting and stenciling with its smooth skin and uniform size. All-America Selections winning Hijinks is also great for etching and the perfect size for interior decorating.

Mixing it Up with Smaller Pumpkins for Indoor Decorations

When hollowed out, smaller pumpkins makes an excellent vase for fresh or dried arrangements or candle holder. For entertaining, foodies can use them to hold soup or dips and or as a fun ice bucket for drinks. A mixture of smaller pumpkins, gourds, dried twigs and fall leaves draws attention when artfully arranged in unique containers like wooden bowls, lanterns and hurricane lamps. Kandy Korn Plus is a small, one-pound pumpkin that has lots of eye appeal when added to these types of arrangements. Toad, a new variety with a bumpy, warty appearance, also adds texture and a unique character to indoor arrangements. Its name says it all!

White pumpkins are striking when mixed with grapevines, dried twigs and berries. They can also be dressed up with cloves and anise for a decorating style reminiscent of Colonial Williamsburg. The White Flat Boer Ford pumpkin has a beautiful white color and is a great for stacking. White Flat Boer Ford has a dense, bright orange interior that is perfect for cooking. Its large size means more fruit for pies, soups and bread.

Making a Statement Outdoors with Larger Pumpkins

Stacking pumpkins is one of the more recent trends for outdoor landscaping. For a welcoming entranceway, consumers place stacked pumpkins in decorative urns on either side of a doorway. Using different colored pumpkins in tan, white and green adds interest. For added drama paint large pumpkins with a greeting, the house number, or the family monogram.

Outdoor decorating trends have moved towards using a variety of pumpkins with different sizes, shapes, textures and colors. Stack them in a wheelbarrow, washtub, large basket or planter and add in twigs, winter squash, gourds, dried leaves and berries for an attractive fall display. Bales of hay and benches invite guests to sit and enjoy the season.

Bigger and bolder is often better in the landscape because it makes a statement. Captain Jack certainly stands out with its extra-large size. It is an excellent pumpkin for a focal piece, especially when grouped with mums and surrounded with smaller pumpkins. Captain Jack is fantastic in flowerbeds along with mums, pansies and a variety of smaller pumpkins and gourds for a dazzling fall display.

Meet our Pumpkin Breeder: Chris Becker!

Education: M.S. – Genetics, University of Arkansas
Currently Breeding: Beets, Swiss chard, Pumpkins, Winter Squash

Chris, why did you decide to become a vegetable breeder?
My grandparents moved to Arkansas in the 30’s and started farming cotton and later soybeans. I spent my summers working on this farm with my Uncle and developed an interest in all things mechanical. I started riding along with him on tractors when I was 5 or 6, and eventually by 11 or 12 running equipment myself.

After high school, I decided to enroll in a general engineering program and specialize later (most likely in agricultural engineering). During this time, I took a job at the university’s research farm and quickly realized I liked being outdoors on machinery more than I liked designing it. I transferred out of the engineering program and into the horticultural department, and at this time started working for the Spinach/Southern Pea breeder.

What’s the best part of your job?
I enjoy making new hybrids and seeing the results. It’s interesting to see if what you think is going to happen actually does.

Did You Know?

  • The Irish brought the tradition of pumpkin carving to America.
  • Pumpkins are fruits, not vegetables.
  • David Finkle (UK) holds the world record for carving the most pumpkins in one hour — 102 to be exact.
  • A Napa Valley, California man holds the record for the largest pumpkin grown- 2032 pounds!