See how a UF/IFAS researcher is looking to breed nutritious pumpkins for Florida growers.
Florida growers are always on the lookout for a new, alternative crop, and nutritious pumpkins may soon be the next option. Geoffrey Meru, a fruit and vegetable geneticist at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), is working towards breeding a nutritious pumpkin with all the desirable traits possible, according to a Vegetable and Specialty Crop News (VSCNews) article. See a summary below.
Nutritious Pumpkins for Florida Growers
Meru is attempting to produce dual-purpose pumpkins. He’s working with Florida growers to produce the pumpkins close to the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida. They will also determine demand for the pumpkins at a local farmers’ market. These pumpkins closely resemble their squash cousins.
Pumpkins have a variety of nutritious benefits, including:
- They are full of vitamins
- Pumpkins are a good source of fiber
- The seeds produce a healthy, unsaturated fat that has been shown to reduce cholesterol.
- The seeds are a good source of protein
However, different pumpkins have different benefits, and Meru is attempting to combine them all. “The end goal of our breeding program is to develop pumpkin varieties that have both high seed nutrition and whose flesh can be eaten. This will make the pumpkin more appealing to U.S. growers. I am not aware of any grower in Florida producing ‘seed-oil pumpkin’ — so essentially it would be a new crop in Florida. We have initiated a breeding program for ‘dual purpose’ varieties at TREC,” Meru said in the article. He believes nutritious, dual-purpose pumpkins might be in Florida growers’ hands in four to six years.
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