Jack-o’-lanterns: Prevent Your Carved Creation from Becoming a Fungal Fiasco

    Jack-o’-lanterns: Prevent Your Carved Creation from Becoming a Fungal Fiasco

    Carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns is an art form that comes in all shapes, sizes and levels of difficulty. The final product (usually) makes the pumpkin carver proud and anxious to display his or her work. However, often just a few days later, the artistic creation may start to wither and rot, and eventually, mold will take over. Why does this happen?

    When you carve a pumpkin, it exposes the insides, making it more susceptible to infection through air flow. The environment (temperature, sunlight, etc.) can also be a factor in the pumpkin’s quality.Pumpkin

    Molds are a fungal micro-organism that have the potential to live everywhere. These fungi release tiny, lightweight spores that allow them to travel through the air. They can then infect and cause carved pumpkins to shrivel, soften and start to grow fuzzy, grey mold. Some common interior molds include Cladosporium, Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Alternaria.

    Consider these methods to help preserve your carved pumpkin:
              1. Thoroughly wash your pumpkin before cutting into it.
              2.  Sterilize spoons, knives or other carving tools before use, especially between pumpkin carving.
              3. Remove all of the pumpkin’s insides to reduce the surface area where potential fungi can grow.
              4. Dip, wash or spray your finished carving with a 10 percent bleach solution. This will kill any microorganisms        on your pumpkin.

              5. Rub the cut areas with petroleum jelly, which helps lock in the moisture and slow the drying process.

              6. Consider using an electric light or glow stick instead of a candle. This will prevent the gourd from “cooking” and spoiling faster.

    Click here to see a gallery of the fungi that can infect your carved pumpkin:
    https://dkphoto.photoshelter.com/…/Molds-…/G0000GOne6NTk5fs/

    Click here to learn more about pumpkin production:

    https://vegetableguide.usu.edu/production/cucumber-pumpkin-squashproduction/varietyselection

    Click here to learn more about mold and mildews: https://utahpests.usu.edu/…/p…/pdf/mold-mildew_pestpress.pdf

    Ask an Expert by: Nick Volesky, Utah State University Extension vegetable IPM associate

    Published on: Oct 18, 2019

    Related Articles

    Ask an Expert: Protect Yourself from Financial Fraud

    Ask an Expert: Protect Yourself from Financial Fraud

    There has been extensive reporting in recent news about data breaches, cyber security, Social Security numbers stolen, identity theft, fraud, scams, credit monitoring services, credit reports, credit scores, etc.

    Read More
    When is Enough, Enough? Consider Creative Deprivation This Holiday

    When is Enough, Enough? Consider Creative Deprivation This Holiday

    We all know it is easy to get carried away with "decking the halls" during the holidays, and the concepts of excess, over indulgence and over scheduling come to mind this time of year more than ever. In general, there is a trend toward excess in our lives.

    Read More
    Ask an Expert - Five Reasons to Make Time for Family Meal Time

    Ask an Expert - Five Reasons to Make Time for Family Meal Time

    Are you among the minority of American families who eat at least one meal together every day? In today's fast-paced world, eating Sunday dinner as a family is a great tradition, but it is a giant step away from more regular or daily time spent eating and socializing around the table - which was the norm just one generation ago.

    Read More