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Pumpkin Crack Healing by Len Stellpflug

In mid August, 2000 I was watching 2 Giant Pumpkins early every morning for possible cracks. Both fruit were concave on the blossom end. In prior years a high percentage of similar fruit split on the blossom end. In the past I put as much Latex Caulking Compound as possible into the crack hoping to save it for a carving in October.

At approximately 400 pounds the fruit on my Eaton 1009.5 plant developed a crescent shaped crack about 1 inch below the blossom point. The crack was 1.5 inches long and about 1/8 th inch wide at the widest point. I inserted a Quack Grass stem and it went into the cavity…….A fruit on another plant was bleeding at many spots on the stem-end. I scraped material from fresh bleed spots and pushed as much as possible into the crack with my fingers. Then, Latex Caulk was applied over the crack area. It did not crack further. The pumpkin continued to grow and on October 3 weighed 968 pounds on my scales.

The 968 was a short-high-wide fruit. In mid October a daughter carved a face on the blossom end with the pumpkin positioned as it grew. The blossom area was removed for the nose. I took that piece and removed the Caulk. The crack was not visible. I cross-sectioned the crack area in 4 places. It had completely healed to a depth of about 2 inches.

The fruit on my Eaton 780 plant (concave blossom end) developed a similar but somewhat wider crescent shaped crack above the blossom point. The crack went into the cavity. It was treated with the bleed material as described above. The fruit continued to grow and weighed 664 pounds on October 3………When I found the crack healed on the 968 pound fruit I removed the Caulk from this fruit and the crack was not visible. When this fruit was carved I cut out the crack area. Cross-sections showed it healed to a depth of slightly over 1 inch.

This approach may not work on cracks wider than approximately 1/4 inch. It is also important to discover the crack shortly after it occurs, or the fruit will rot.

What if I didn’t have a fruit that was “bleeding”? I would try to make one bleed by pricking the stem-end with a sharp instrument in several places. While waiting for the bleed material the crack would be covered on the surface with Latex caulk, being careful not to get caulk down into the crack.

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