What Makes a Good Roadside Pumpkin?
The best types of pumpkins for your roadside stand are those that will make people stop what they’re doing to look. The standard jack-o-lantern pumpkins are the backbone of your stand, because those are the types people are used to seeing. They will catch customers’ eyes and entice them to pull over.
However, you want to offer a variety of different colors and style to your customers, which is what will have customers coming back year after year to your stand. Plus, it will make your stand look great as potential customers drive past.
Attributes to Look for in Pumpkins for a Roadside Stand
Beyond looks, quality pumpkins will keep your customers coming back year after year. Here’s what we’d recommend looking for when selecting pumpkin varieties for your roadside stand.
- Deep orange color – customers like a deep, uniform orange color for their pumpkins to make the most striking jack-o-lanterns.
- Sturdy pumpkin handles – the pumpkin handles should be very sturdy instead of dried.
- Good shelf life – your pumpkins should store well and be able to hold their quality for weeks, giving you consistent business throughout the fall.
10 Pumpkin Varieties That Are Perfect for a Roadside Stand
Crunchkin is a hard-shell pumpkin that is easily held in hand and weighs about half a pound. It has a unique mottled color and a great stem attachment that stays on for a long while. The plant looks a little more like a bush and is very high yielding. This variety is easy to sell past Halloween and is popular as a table decoration for Thanksgiving.
Crunchkin has a great shelf-life as long as you clean them up, and they are popular for families as younger kids can grab them. Many roadside sellers will bundle these in bags of five.
Apprentice is a small, smooth pumpkin with a hard shell. Because the exterior is so smooth, it is frequently used for painting. The small size and strong stalk make it popular for kids because it is easy to hold. Apprentice has a very uniform roundness that makes it favored among customers. It is not often stocked in grocery stores, so it offers a unique choice for roadside stands.
Field Trip has a large, long, strong handle that allows for a bit of rough handling or swinging by kids. It is much bigger than the previous two, usually around five pounds in weight. It’s small to medium size makes it a great choice for children and school visits, since it can be easily carried by its long handle.
Orange Sunrise starts off as yellow and matures to orange, instead of starting green and maturing to orange. It has a bright orange color, weighs around 15 pounds, and has as nice sturdy stalk.
Cronus is the quintessential jack-o-lantern pumpkin and is extra-large, weighing anywhere from 25 -50 pounds depending on how much room it has to grow. It has a nice dark orange color, a bit of ribbing to the shell, and has a thick stalk that is classic for jack-o-lanterns.
These are often the drawcard for roadside pumpkin patches in the fall, so we recommend having them visible and at the front of your display to attract customers.
Miniwarts is a small pumpkin, between three and five pounds. It grows on a bush and has some vivid looking green warts on the fruit. The pumpkin itself is a dark orange, and as the pumpkin ripens, the warts turn from green to orange. By Thanksgiving, the warts will harden and fall off.
This pumpkin is more decorative; since the shell is very hard, it is not recommended for carving.
Warty Goblin is another new variety that seems to perform well in roadside stands. It weighs between eight and twenty pounds and has a hard shell. This will make it tough to carve, so it is more frequently used as an ornamental pumpkin.
Similar to Miniwarts, the warts on Warty Goblin are green when picked but turn orange a few weeks later.
Warty Gnome one has a long, dark green handle. It is a smaller pumpkin, between four and six pounds, and is flatter than your average pumpkin. The wart profile is shallow, so they’re not as pronounced as they are in Mini Warts or Warty Goblin.
Warty Gnome is a yellow with orange stripes and is a great ornamental pumpkin. It is very popular in farmer’s markets as it is easy to carry.
Specter is creamy in color and nice and round with a dark green handle. When you harvest, Specter is bright white, but it fades to a cream within a few days. Specter is also considered to be an ornamental pumpkin because of its semi-hard shell.
It weighs around 17 pounds and has a few shallow warts present.
Lil’ Pump-ke-mon has been on the market for a few years, but it is still very unique. It has a white shell with orange stripes. It has a very sturdy stem and will store well past Thanksgiving.
What is the best way to trim and keep the handles to minimize shrink?
Cut the vine instead of the to help it cure properly and minimize shrinkage. Also, when you clean the stem, wash it with a bleach or ammonia solution. Both of these steps will help the stems stay sturdy throughout storage.
Which varieties are best for pumpkin pie?
Out of the above pumpkins, Field Trip is the best for pumpkin pie, but Mystic Plus is one of the best varieties for cooking. Fun fact: when pumpkin pie is made commercially, it is actually made from Hubbard squash.
What is powdery mildew resistance, and can you mix different resistance varieties in a field?
Some plant varieties are tolerant to powdery mildew and others are resistant to powdery mildew. Tolerance means the plant will grow regardless of the presence of mildew, and resistant means that the plant will fight back against the mildew and prevent mildew from forming. Powdery mildew resistance is measured in grades, so on one end, you will have complete susceptibility and on the other, complete resistance.
If you mix highly susceptible plants in a field with intermediate or resistant plants, then the spores on the highly susceptible plants will blow around the field and might cause higher infection in some of the more resistant varieties.
Will mixing varieties in the same field cause any issues for yield?
No, aside from the above point about powdery mildew resistance, it will not have much of an impact on growth or yield. Plenty of farmers will have multiple types in their field in a season. However, you do need to be aware of the room each plant needs to grow; certain varieties require more room to grow and larger spacing. Failure to do so can lead to an smaller-than-expected fruit.
Are there any pumpkin varieties that are negatively affected by black plastic mulch?
Black plastic mulch is generally encouraged when growing pumpkins because it helps keep the soil temperature warm in cold weather. (The only issue we have noticed is that the heat from the black plastic mulch can occasionally cause issues with pollination). Overall, black plastic mulch is recommended for growing pumpkins.
Which varieties are best for droughts?
Pumpkins generally like dry weather better than wet weather, so unless you have a severe drought, many of these varieties will still produce a high yield.
We’ve been struggling to get the yield we expect from Cronus pumpkins. Do you have any suggestions?
Cronus pumpkins are more sensitive to heat than other types and also require a lot of space to grow, both in row and between row space. The Cronus variety also responds well to vine maintenance and insect and fungicide management.
My Crunckin pumpkins have been light orange with blotches, and my Munchkin pumpkins were bright orange with green flecks. Is this normal?
The green flecks often suggest a high virus pressure, but virus presence does not usually affect sales numbers of the fruit. Look for seeds that are virus-resistant to combat the mottling, and if your color is not dark enough, leave it on the plant a bit longer.
Have other questions? Leave a comment and a member of our team will respond with an answer.