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Fresh Market Grower Tips:
Growing pumpkins for fall decoration and Halloween has become a very large business in the U.S. The entire theme at roadside ...
View Quick Facts Chart

Fresh Market Grower Tips:
Growing pumpkins for fall decoration and Halloween has become a very large business in the U.S. The entire theme at roadside markets is often built around this fascinating vegetable at that time of year. The many sizes and shapes now available add to the childhood mystique of the season and attract families like a magnet. Grow pumpkins and take advantage of the magic they bring to your business!

The only real demand pumpkins make is for space. Any well-drained tillable soil with a pH of 6.0 -6.8 is acceptable and the use of manure is recommended. Refer to seed spacing recommendations in the chart, for each variety. Plant seed 1-2 deep into warm soil well after threat of frost has passed and give supplemental water if plants start to wilt from drought. Add bees to ensure adequate pollination. One good hive per acre is recommended by the experts. As the fruit mature, the vines will open up and reveal their “treasures” for easy picking. The fruit will tolerate light frost, but harvest before severe freezing damages their skin. Finally, use care during harvest and handling to prevent bruises and wounds that would lead to early deterioration.

Maturities are from direct seeding and should only be used for comparison.

Most growers spend considerable effort on preparing the seed bed, planting, and controlling for pests in their pumpkin crop - but many do not manage pollination. They may not realize what it is costing them. Short of a complete crop failure the result of poor pollination is less easily recognized, but can include: 1) misshapen fruit; 2) undersized fruit; 3) greater susceptibility to disease; and as a result reduced marketable yield.

With all the things that can go wrong during pollination it’s a wonder good sets ever occur. Female flowers are only open for a few hours on one day, usually from daybreak to about noon, and pollination must occur during this time. Although pumpkins will continue to produce female flowers for several weeks, loss of the crown set may result in smaller fruit and delayed maturity. Many factors must be right for pollination to be successful, especially those affecting pollen transfer (bees), pollen viability and stigmatic receptivity. For instance high nightly temperatures (those over 65°F.) are associated with failure of female flowers to open and develop properly. Bees must visit a minimum of 8–12 times per flower to produce marketable fruit.

With the decline in feral honeybee populations, due to Varroa mites, pesticide misuse, and etc., you may want to consider placing out bee hives. The general recommendation is one hive per acre, set out when both the male and female flowers are out. Hives set out much earlier run the risk of having the bees visiting plants other than those of the target crop. Hives should have a nearby water source.

In addition to pollination, development of female flowers may be affected by temperature. Experience in the Mid-Atlantic states and in New England indicates that high night temperatures (above 65°F.) can cause the ovaries to turn yellow and then shrivel and the stigma of the unopened flower exhibits black streaks into the ovary. Some varieties are more susceptible to this condition than others.

There is growing evidence that colony collapse disorder (CCD), which has been blamed for the widely-publicized dramatic loss of honey bee colonies around the world, is caused by no single factor alone, but a combination of interacting factors including, Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), varroa mites, pesticides, and other stresses like poor nutrition. IAPV emerged as a leading suspect because of the high correlation between it and CCD. However, to date no direct causal relationship has been shown. Recently, researchers at Penn State have been looking at pesticide toxicity as a possible contributing factor. They found that residual pesticides are prevalent in honey bee colonies, and that these chemicals may have sub-lethal affects contributing to CCD. Fluvalinate in particular was identified as a concern. Based on the most recent findings the researchers at Penn State make the following recommendations for beekeepers, which should be of interest to growers too:

1) Monitor and control varroa mite populations. Use “soft” chemicals like formic acid (Mite-Away 11™), Apiguard™, and ApiLife VAR™.
2) Reduce pathogen and pesticide buildup in combs by regularly culling old combs, recycling old combs, and/or irradiating old combs. This is particularly recommended for dead-out colonies.
3) Fluvalinate should only be used as a last resort. Use of off-label products should NOT be considered.
4) If coumaphos must be used; only the registered product CheckMite™ should be considered.
5) Where bees are used for pollination, communicate with nearby growers to minimize colony exposure to agricultural pesticides. Some pesticide labels permit application during blooming periods, but this is definitely not the best procedure for honey bee safety.
6) Monitor and control Nosema disease using fumagillin.

Many of these powdery mildew protected varieties have all been conventionally bred by Dr. Ted Superak of the Harris Moran Seed Co. We thank Dr. Superak for his breeding accomplishments. We are also very proud of the fact that you, our customers have made many of these varieties some of the most widely used varieties in the U.S. Growers have confidence in these varieties and have come to realize the excellent yields of high quality fruit that these varieties can produce. Harris Seeds offers you many different powdery mildew protected varieties from which to choose. You have a choice of fruit sizes from 3 lbs. to more than 40 lbs. – all with powdery mildew protection.. If you haven’t tried these varieties, we encourage you to add them into your program. We are confident that you will be pleased with their performance, yield and fruit qualities.

FarMore® Technology - FI 400 Seed Treatment
FarMore Technology takes a different approach to pumpkin and squash seed protection using customized treatments to fit specific needs. It’s the first line of defense and protection against several key seed diseases, seeding diseases, and key insects.

Broad-Spectrum Disease Protection
FarMore Technology has proven performance in the field against:
• General damping-off and seed blight
• Fusarium spp.
• Pythium spp.
• Rhizoctonia spp. (incl. post emergence protection)

Excellent Insect Protection
Early-season insect protection can prevent or eliminate the possibility of diseases vectored by certain insects and FarMore provides excellent protection against Striped Cucumber Beetles in pumpkins and squash.

Performance and Convenience
• Early season protection against disease and Cucumber Beetles
• Broad-spectrum protection in variable environmental conditions
• Enhanced disease protection gets crops off to a healthy start to maximize yield and quality potential

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