The Basics on Our Pumpkin Seeds
What’s the difference between pepitas and pumpkin seeds?
A pepita (which means “little seed of squash” in Spanish) is a pumpkin seed without the shell. There are two types:
- A traditional pumpkin seed with the shell removed.
- A type of seed grown without the shell, usually a green color.
Most peptitas found in U.S. stores are grown in China. They are grown with a shell, processed in China, and the shell is removed by machine, before they are shipped to the U.S.
All pepitas grown by Autumn Seed grow without the shell on them, and are entirely non-GMO.
Why don’t the seeds from pumpkins grown in a home garden taste or look like the ones in the store?
The types of pumpkins that you buy in the fall to make pumpkin pies and carve for jack-o-lanterns aren’t the same varieties of pumpkins that are grown for their seeds. Autumn Seed grows a specific variety that is known for producing lots of sweet, tasty seeds that produce just the right amount of crunch.
Do you produce organic pumpkin seeds?
Yes. They’re grown in organic-only fields, primarily in the Mid-Willamette Valley and the Medford area in Oregon. We process approximately one-half million pounds of certified organic seed and have the capacity to do more if demand increases.
Are your pumpkin seeds GMO free?
Yes, our pumpkins are not genetically modified. The seeds they produce are GMO free.
What are the health benefits of pumpkin seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of beta carotene, Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc, copper and vitamin K.
Research on both the seeds and the oil from pumpkins has shown that consuming them regularly can help prevent or reduce the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate that impacts men as they get older.
Growing Pumpkins With the Best Seeds
Which varieties of pumpkins produce the best seeds?
The type of pumpkin we primarily grow in Oregon is a variety that was developed in the 1960s and discarded because it did not produce a desirable amount of pumpkin meat per plant. We’ve been growing this specific variety in Oregon since the 1970s and found that its seeds are unmatched.
Other areas of the U.S. may see better results from other varieties; for example, the Dickinson pumpkin that’s often used for canned pumpkin grows extremely well in the Mid-West because it doesn’t need as much water.
Where are pumpkin seeds grown?
We’ve tried growing pumpkin seeds all over, including in New Zealand. In the U.S., we’ve grown seeds in Tennessee, Michigan, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Pasco, Washington, as well as in Oregon. And we’ve found that the hot summers with cool nights that are typical in Oregon produce the sweetest flavor — one that’s hard to duplicate anywhere else in the world. The majority — more than 95 percent — of our seeds are grown in Oregon.
Where do the seeds you use to grow your pumpkins come from?
We grow some fields of pumpkins just for the seed stock. For many years, we’ve been able to produce our own seeds for growing our non GMO pumpkin crop.
Do you grow pumpkins in China or import the seeds from there?
No, we do not grow or import any pumpkin seeds from China. Most of our customers prefer the higher quality, guaranteed standards and sweeter taste of seeds grown in the U.S., so that’s where we plant, grow and harvest our seeds.
Harvesting Pumpkin Seeds
How do you harvest pumpkins for the seeds?
In most of our own fields, we focus on harvesting pumpkin seeds only. First, starting in September, we use a combine-like machine for separating the pumpkin from the vine. After maturing for a few days in the field, the pumpkins are gathered by a harvesting machine that smashes them and extracts the seeds. In this process, the pumpkin meat is left in the field as fertilizer. Some of our partners, who do their own harvesting of both pumpkin meat and seeds, will use a different process for gathering and processing the full pumpkin.
What equipment do you use for harvesting pumpkins?
We have decades of experience designing and creating our own proprietary machines for efficiently harvesting pumpkins. Autumn Seed even has a fabrication shop to create and maintain those machines. We don’t sell the machines that we make; they are for our own use only.
How has pumpkin harvesting become more efficient?
When Autumn Seed founder Howard Ropp began to harvest pumpkins, he started with four machines. Each machine was pulled behind a tractor, and could harvest about 2 to 3 acres per day — for a grand total of 8 to 12 acres a day. Now, with our self-propelled harvesting equipment, we can process more than 100 acres per day.
After you harvest the seeds, what do you use the pumpkin meat for?
Some of the pumpkins that we get our seeds from are used for pumpkin purée and some for pumpkin juice. In other cases, the meat is used for fertilizer and helps us increase our sustainability and decrease our dependence on other types of fertilizers, either natural or chemical.
Processing Pumpkin Seeds
Where do you take the pumpkin seeds after you harvest them?
We truck the seeds to our own warehouses, where we follow a cleaning and drying process to prepare the raw pumpkin seeds for the companies that buy and roast them.
What happens during the cleaning process?
We run the seeds, which still have plenty of pumpkin meat on them, through a washing system. Once they are clean, the seeds are dried on special equipment for 10 to 12 hours. Then we run them through a cleaning system again to make sure that they are ready to go. Finally, we sort them by size to meet our customers’ requirements.
Do you roast any of your pumpkin seeds?
No, we provide raw pumpkin seeds to our customers. Each customer decides how to roast or flavor the seeds they sell. Some sell them raw, depending on what the end consumer is looking for.
Buying Pumpkin Seeds in Bulk from Autumn Seed
What’s the minimum amount of pumpkin seeds that you sell?
Our minimum is 10,000 pounds. We do not sell directly to consumers at this time.
In most cases, seed orders need to be placed about a year in advance.
What are your credit terms?
Our payment terms are net 14 days. New buyers are asked to pay before shipment. Contact us for more information about setting up an account.