Warrior was launched in 2013 and since then it has formed the grey pumpkin range with the STARS 7022, 7026 and 7028. This range had a variety to suit almost all needs and produced consistently top yields and returns for producers. During the intervening years, many hundreds of new crosses have been made and evaluated. Although some of these produced performance data close to the commercial hybrids under South African conditions, none were found to be superior enough for inclusion in the range.
This situation has however changed with the launch of Delilah, previously tested as PK 290. The outstanding feature of Delilah is that it has an extended storage capacity compared to the other varieties in the range. Delilah has been stored for up to 6 months without showing skin pinking. The other varieties in the range tend to show this discoloration after some 3 months in storage. Although this pinking has no effect on the flesh quality of the fruit and does in fact mean less wastage when peeled, the appearance of the fruit is not what consumers are used to.
Delilah has a semi-bush growth habit with all the advantages associated with this. Maturity is at 95 – 100 days depending on growing conditions. Fruit are a deep flat shape with very shallow ribbing. They are of medium size (6Kg) but the seed cavity is very small making the fruit heavy for their size. Flesh is dense and has a deep orange colour. The thick flesh at the blossom end of the fruit also contributes to the keeping quality by eliminating the weak point that thin flesh in this area creates.
Delilah has a good general level of leaf disease resistance and is primarily seen as a variety that will be harvested in late summer for storage into winter for extended marketing. It will produce in the winter growing areas but fruit size will be smaller. Pumpkins produced in these areas are not stored for long periods and other choices capable of top yields are available for this time slot.
It has been a long time since Starke Ayres released a new pumpkin variety to South African growers, we are sure it has been worth the wait!