Most pumpkins grown in Ohio — one of the top producers of the gourd in the U.S. — are of the jack-o’-lantern type, but the state also produces pumpkins for pie. Now, Ohio could become famous for its pumpkin seeds.
Ohio State University researchers are working with growers and Innovative Farmers of Ohio to select pumpkin varieties that yield good seeds for roasting, which could lead to added income opportunities for farmers and a new niche market.
Supported by an Ohio Department of Agriculture specialty crop grant, the project began in 2009 with the planting of 15 pumpkin varieties. This year, the five varieties with the best traits for pumpkin seed production were selected and planted at the university’s Western Agricultural Research Station in South Charleston and at two grower sites in the area.
“We harvested the pumpkins and took them to the pilot plant (at the Food Industries Center on the Columbus campus), where the seeds were extracted, cleaned, dried, roasted and seasoned,” said Jim Jasinski, an OSU Extension educator with the Integrated Pest Management Program.