Pumpkin Pilot Program Produces Plenty of Plump Pumpkins

Patrick OMalley, Field Specialist Commercial Horticulture, Southeast, and Hank Taber, Faculty, Horticulture

Problem Statement
Many apple orchards in the Midwest also grow pumpkins.  Both crops have similar harvest and marketing seasons.  The orchards have historically concentrated their efforts on the apple crop.  The common scenario is good apple crops and mediocre to poor pumpkin crops. 
Programmatic Response
In 2005 one grower who fit this problem statement was selected as a pilot.  In the previous three years he had averaged less than 2,000 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, and insecticide.   Two acre plus fields that had been used for pumpkins in past years were planted in early June following recommendations of the plan.  Additionally a new one quarter acre field trial comparing black plastic mulch, bare ground and oat mulch was put in as well. 
Quantity was greatly increased.  The fields averaged better than 35,000 pounds of pumpkins.  Quality was exceptional; there were very few unmarketable fruit.  The one quarter acre field trial overall yielded pumpkins at the rate of 48,000 lbs per acre.  We are repeating the procedure this year.  Provided we can show two years in a row of high yields, the project will be presented to Midwest vegetable growers in the 2006/2007 winter programming season.

March 2006
106 Commercial Horticulture and Forestry

Page last updated: September 5, 2006
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