Pumpkins are an annual vigorous prostrate vine with an extensive root system and usually put down peg roots to secure the plant and have tendrils that wrap around other plants to prevent the vines from being blown around. They have separate male and female flowers on a single plant.
There are a range of pumpkins that can be grown in Australia and the particular variety will depend on the climate and market demand for each season. Both C. maxima and C. moschata can be grown in Australia with C. maxima generally preferring cooler climates and C. moschata more tolerant of hot, humid climates; however there are varieties of each species that will grow in the opposing climate. The species C. maxima includes Jarrahdale, Queensland Blue and Kabocha (often called buttercup squash); and C. moschata includes butternut pumpkin and varieties referred to as Japanese pumpkin. Crosses between the two species include Ken’s special and OOAK.
Pumpkins are commercially grown in every state and territory in Australia (except the Australian Capital Territory). Pumpkins are often grown by broadacre farmers as an opportunity crop, as they do not require as much labour as other vegetable crops, and they can be harvested at one time and stored.
Pumpkins are consumed boiled, steamed, baked, fried or pureed in sweet or savoury dishes. The fruit is a good source of carbohydrate, rich in energy, fibre, beta carotene and vitamin C. Most of the pumpkins produced in Australia are consumed on the domestic market.
The pumpkin industry is represented by AUSVEG, the national peak industry body representing Australian vegetable and potato growers.
Facts and figures
- Pumpkins are a member of the Cucurbitaceae plant family and are related to melons and zucchinis
- They are an annual vine requiring large amounts of water to achieve optimum yields
- Pumpkins are grown commercially in all states of Australia
- They are often grown by broadacre farmers as an opportunity crop
- Pumpkins can be sold direct to the fresh produce market, to processors or stored
Total Australian pumpkin production is around 120,000 tonnes from 1,058 growers under 6,986 hectares of cultivation, worth a gross value of AU$76.2 million. They are grown commercially in every state and territory in Australia (except the Australian Capital Territory) with the majority of production in New South Wales and Queensland followed by Western Australia.
Generally, Jarrahdale and Japanese pumpkins comprise about three quarters of the total production and nearly one quarter of the remainder is butternuts.