Patrick OMalley, Field Specialist-Commercial Horticulture, Southeast Area and Hank Taber, Faculty, Horticulture Department
Many fruit and vegetable growers in Iowa have difficulty growing pumpkins or do not grow pumpkins at all. However, the neighboring state of Illinois is the largest pumpkin producing state in the country. Midwest conditions can be very favorable for growing pumpkins.
In 2005 one grower who fit this problem statement was selected as a pilot. In the previous three years he had averaged less than 2000 lbs of pumpkin per acre. A plan was made in the winter for cultivar selection (newer powdery mildew tolerant cultivars were chosen), field prep., planting date, herbicide, fungicide, insecticide and a marketing plan. In 2005 two acre plus fields were planted with pumpkins in early June following recommendations of the plan. In 2006 the pumpkin and squash fields were expanded to 4 acres.
In both 2005 and 2006 quantity was greatly increased over previous years. The fields averaged better than 30,000 pounds of pumpkins per acre. Quality was exceptional; there were very few unmarketable fruit. Despite higher overall yields in 2006 the grower had to buy additional pumpkins from another Iowa grower to meet market demand. The success of this pilot project led to a presentation by Patrick OMalley at the 2007 Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association on pumpkin growing techniques entitled Pumpkin 101. There were over 60 participants in the session. Many were interested in growing pumpkins for the first time, but the group also included some of the largest existing pumpkin growers in the state. When one of these large growers was asked why he was in this class, he stated I came to pick up new points and innovative ideas from ISU Extension.
130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
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September 27, 2007
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