Pumpkin Progress III

September 24th, 2012 by Justin Leave a reply »

We harvested all of the pumpkins, gourds, and squash about a month ago. I just haven’t bothered posting.

We got about 7 tons of fruit out of there. Soo… pretty much a total failure. For the acreage we planted I should have harvested 60-75 tons.

The good news is I think I know exactly what went wrong.

About the time of my last post we were seeing some seriously yellow leaves in the field. I took this to mean a lack of nitrogen. My farming mentor, who does zucchini, wasn’t so sure but he figured it wouldn’t hurt to push out 60lbs of fertilizer to the 4-ish acres of garden area. The fertilizer we’re using is a 5-10-27 so very light on nitrogen, but add enough and that should stop the yellowing, right?

Well, it didn’t. Actually I think I burned the roots of every small vine out there. I saw this because of what happened to the cucumbers. I had about 120 out there, and I know how they grow. Shortly after the fertilizer push they started producing fruit the size of a man’s forearm and within a week the vines started to brown. I done killed ‘em.

And the smaller pumpkin and gourd vines did about the same thing. The only saving grace was that the small vine stuff, generally, had early maturity dates so the fruit was already set.

Upon further research the yellowing was because squash bugs were in very high numbers. From what I gather you can tolerate 1.0 – 1.5 bugs per plant. Beyond that they’re a problem. Well, if you go out in the field right now you’ll find about 8 bugs on a single pumpkin. Let alone the ones crawling over the plant debris. I feel a little stupid there because I saw the eggs early on, but didn’t know what they were, and an employee that was weeding the things actually saved one for me to look at after noticing they were in high numbers and plants with them had turned brown… but I didn’t follow up on it.

So, now I know I need to keep a pyretheroid type insecticide on hand and need a way to spray it. I’ll probably go with bifenthrin because we already use that in the greenhouse and are familiar with it.

The final problem we had was small fruit. I blame this on planting up to 5 seeds per hole when we were told by the seed company to stick to 1 or 2. My boss made that call, I told him what would happen, and it did happen. Related to that we’re going to space out bigger fruiting pumpkins more than we did this year.

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