The Q&A Archives: Pumpkin Farm

Question: I need information on growing 5 to 6 acres of pumpkins (jack-o-lantern size) from start to finish. i.e. pesticides, pH, fertilizers, etc.

Answer: Here are a few general guidelines to growing pumpkins:

Pumpkins need a rich, well-drained soil to grow well. Whenever possible, amend soil with compost and/or aged manure to boost fertility, moisture- holding capacity and drainage. Plant seeds after danger of frost has passed and soil has warmed. Pumpkins are thirsty plants - if possible mulch plants and have water available.

Pumpkin plants, especially young seedlings, are succeptible to attack from squash bugs and cucumber beetles.

Once bloom begins, you can apply a small amound of fertilizer to the soil around the roots (use as per directed by fertilizer label). Ripe fruit will be ready to pick anywhere from 85-120 days, depending on variety.

For a planting as large as yours, I would definitely have your soil tested and contact your Cooperative Extension Service's fruit and vegetable specialist to help you identify possible problems. (Your local office ph#417-546-2371) You might get some useful information from the book "Backyard Market Gardening: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Selling What You Grow", by Andrew Lee (Good Earth Publications, 1993). This is a big venture, and any time you grow a monocrop (a large planting of a single crop) you are inviting pests to feast. I would carefully research what pests are common in your region. Your extension fruit and vegetable specialist should be able to help you create a pest management and fertilizing schedule based on your location and soil type.

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