How to best store pumpkins and winter squash . – You’ve harvested your pumpkin patch, but holiday pies are still weeks away. It's still possible to store pumpkins now for use at Thanksgiving and beyond, into the December holidays. Oregon State University vegetable specialist Alex Stone offers some hints for proper handling and storage of pumpkins and other winter squash: If you haven’t already done so, harvest all squash and pumpkins before frost. Since most squashes and pumpkins are warm season crops, they are susceptible to injury at temperatures less than 50 degrees. If left out in the garden too long, they may decay prematurely in storage. Once the weather gets below about 50 degrees for more than a week, or there is an extended period of rain, pumpkins and squash should be brought in for storage. Squash are ready to harvest when the rind is hard enough to resist fingernail scratches. Pumpkins are ready when they have developed bright orange color. Cut, do not break, stems two to four inches above the fruit. Pumpkins without stems will not store well. Hubbard-type squash, however, stores best with the stems completely removed. Handle fruit carefully to avoid bruising them. Don’t drop or pile up your pumpkins and squashes. Injured produce spoils quickly. Cure squashes and pumpkins after harvest by keeping them warm (80 to 85 degrees) and dry for several days to heal any minor abrasions from harvesting. You should store most winter squashes and pumpkins at about 50 degrees with moderate humidity and good air circulation. An attic or insulated garage is suitable, as long as the pumpkins and squash are on shelves off the floor. A layer of straw helps keep them dry. Newspaper and paper bags hold too much moisture, so should not be used. Keep stored pumpkins and squash away from apples and pears. These and other ripening fruit release ethylene gas, which will hasten the decay of stored squash. Check on your stored pumpkins and squash once a week and remove any that are turning soft. Under proper storage conditions, acorn squashes will last one to two months and pumpkins and butternut squashes from two to three months. The longest keepers, including Turban, Hubbard and Sweet Meat squash, can be stored up to six months.