Pumpkin Seeds as a Nutritious Snack and Source of Protein and Vegetable Oils


Program Description:

Brent Loy's innovative pumpkin breeding project consists of developing hull-less seeded pumpkins for the snack seed trade. "An under-exploited market for pumpkins is the use of seeds for food", he says. "Pumpkin seeds are very nutritious, with exceptionally high levels of protein (30 - 40%) and vegetable oil (40 - 50%)". But, to be able to eat the seeds, the leathery outer skin called the hull (botanically the seed coat) needs to be removed. That process is now done by hand, which is very labor-intensive and expensive. However, a genetic trait for thin seed coat exists in pumpkins, which results in hull-less seeds. Loy has introduced the hull-less trait into pumpkin varieties that produce high seed yields and larger seed.


Brent Loy

Brent Loy, Ph.D., Colorado State U., is a professor of plant biology at the University of New Hampshire. He has been with UNH for 38 years and currently teaches classes on plant genetics, plant breeding, vegetable crops, and crop production technologies. His current research focuses primarily on breeding and genetics of cucurbits. The cucurbits include a number of crops economically important in New England such as melons, squash, pumpkins, and gourds. "In New England most locally grown vegetables are sold retail through roadside and farmers' cooperative markets", Loy says. "To maintain a competitive edge and profitability for locally grown produce, growers need to have new vegetable cultivars adapted to the short growing season in our area, that are resistant to plant pests, and that have high culinary appeal for customers".

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