Tozer Seeds, based in Cobham, Surrey, runs a large breeding programme for pumpkins. Product development manager Jim Juby said: "Some varieties have matured early - but the majority have matured late. It depends on the variety choice but it is a nationwide problem."
Marketing manager Stuart Gibson of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire-based grower KJ Curson said there was a lot of waste last year because of unripe stock having to be thrown out. This year, he said he expects to see above-average levels of waste again as a result of fruit maturing too early. "We had nearly as much rain this year as last year, but it was more spread out so there was not nearly so much impact on the crop," he added.
Juby said sales were still increasing for the Halloween market and, although pumpkin had a place in the kitchen, demand for varieties for culinary uses was static. Pumpkin grown as a vegetable had a future in the long-term, he said.
"Short-term, I'm not so sure. The squash market is predominantly butternuts and people are just getting to grips with what to do with them. But interest in 'pie' pumpkins is growing steadily in Europe."
www.HorticultureWeek.co.uk/edibles for more vegetable news.