22 articles tagged "Pumpkins".

Figure 3: The pumpkin plants in the foreground of this photos have yellow leaves.

This time of year, I receive many complaints of pumpkin plants with yellow leaves. There can be many reasons why pumpkin plants have yellow leaves. The most common reason for yellow pumpkin leaves doesn’t have anything to do with a disease that can spread from plant to plant. Usually, the reason for the yellow pumpkin leaves has to do with lack of water, weather that has been too hot, nutrient deficiency or other stresses. The photos and discussion below will, I hope, illustrate my point. Let’s say you have a pumpkin field where you have pumpkin leaves that are yellow and you are wondering about the cause. You may want to ask yourself, which leaves are yellow and where are they yellow. In Figure 1, yellow pumpkin leaves may be observed.  When one looks a bit closer to find out where the yellow leaves are, one can see that the[Read More…]


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One of the most common diseases of pumpkin in Indiana is powdery mildew.  Growers are naturally anxious to observe whether the fungicide they have been applying for this disease has been effective.   Therefore, many pumpkin growers scout their fields for disease. Although powdery mildew is relatively easy to recognize, it is possible to become confused.   Figure one shows two pumpkin leaves.  The bottom leaf has the white, sporulation of the powdery mildew fungus in colonies randomly scattered across the leaf.   The top leaf, has silvery coloration primarily along the vein.  This latter leaf is a healthy variegated leaf.   Some pumpkin varieties show this type of variegation more than others. It may be a good idea to study the photo shown here so that one can tell the difference between a pumpkin leaf with the disease powdery mildew and a healthy leaf that is merely variegated

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I have observed this disease in scattered commercial pumpkin and squash fields across Indiana. Bacterial leaf spot of pumpkin is perhaps the most serious disease of pumpkin in Indiana today. Symptoms: Bacterial spot causes ⅛-¼ inch angular leaf lesions that are white to light brown in color (Figure 1). These leaf lesions may be accompanied by yellowing (chlorosis). The more important symptom is the lesions on fruit that are scabby to raised, round and a light brown in color. These lesions are often less than ⅛ inch in diameter and do not extend into the surface of the fruit. However, lesions may become secondarily infected in which case lesions can become an inch or more in diameter. Such lesions may grow into the flesh of the fruit (Figure 2). Any type of fruit lesion can ruin the marketability of the fruit. Biology: Leaf lesions, while unimportant economically, are important in[Read More…]


Figure 2. Squash bug nymphs (photo credit John Obermeyer)

Squash bug is the most consistent insect pest of squash and pumpkins and is the most difficult to control (Figure 1 and 2). The key to management is early detection and control of the nymphs. The adults are extremely difficult to kill. Foliar insecticides should be applied to control the nymphs when you have more than an average of one egg mass per plant. When you find egg masses, mark them with flags and check every day or two to see when they hatch. When many of the egg masses are hatching, that is the time to begin application. Since eggs are laid and hatch over an extended period of time, several applications may be required. Brigade®, Mustang Max® and Warrior® have provided excellent control.


With the start of pumpkin harvest, it is a good time to review important considerations for harvest and postharvest storage of pumpkins and winter squash (butternut, acorn and hubbard squash etc.). First, pumpkin and winter squash should be harvested fully mature to reach their optimal quality and fulfill their potential for long shelf lives. Characters indicating fruit maturity include loss of rind surface gloss, ground spot yellowing, and hardening of the skin to the level that it is resistant to puncture with a thumbnail. Except for some striped varieties, mature fruit should have solid external color. If fruit have to be harvested pre-mature because of plant decline, these fruit won’t store as well as mature fruit. The best practice is to harvest the fruit as soon as they are fully mature and then store under proper conditions. If mature fruit are left attached to the vines, it increases the chance[Read More…]


Several pumpkin growers have asked me when to stop managing for pumpkin diseases. That is, when should a pumpkin grower stop applying fungicides? I cannot provide a definitive answer for this question; every grower will have to make his or her own decision. Below, however, are some factors to consider. Estimate the crop yield – walk through the field and evaluate the yield of pumpkins that are ready to harvest. Be sure to only consider fruit of marketable quality. If the yield is at or above what is expected, it may be time to put the sprayer away. Estimate when harvest will take place – Pumpkins that are scheduled for harvest in the next week or two are less likely to need any fungicide treatment. A longer period to final harvest may indicate that there is time for immature fruit to ripen. For example, pumpkins that are to be picked by the consumer up to Halloween may[Read More…]


Figure 3. The fungus on this senescent female pumpkin flower (Choanephora sp.) is growing on a flower which did not develop properly.

There has been some concern about poor fruit set in pumpkin fields that otherwise have healthy vigorous vines. This summer we have experienced above normal temperatures for much of the pumpkin fruit set season and I suspect that has played a role. This article will consider temperature as well as other factors that influence pumpkin fruit set. In order for fruit set to take place, male and female flowers must be open on the same day, pollinating insects must be active, the plant must not be too stressed and it must have an adequate level of carbohydrates. Growers can influence some of these conditions. High temperatures promote death of female pumpkin flowers while still in the bud stage. Varieties differ in the their sensitivity to high temperatures. To determine whether flowers have died early in development requires close inspection of the pumpkin vine. An aborted bud often dries up and[Read More…]


I have received several calls about pumpkins recently. This article will outline a few steps growers should think about to prevent diseases in pumpkins. Virus diseases – There are several virus diseases that affect pumpkins in the Midwest. The most important diseases include: papaya ring spot, watermelon mosaic and zucchini yellow mosaic virus. Aphids transmit all these diseases. Many of the aphids responsible are carried up from the south each year on winds. Therefore, aphids with virus are more common later in the summer; pumpkins planted later in the season are more likely to be affected with one of the virus diseases listed above. Plant pumpkins by about June 15 to avoid having the fruit set during the period of high virus disease pressure. Powdery mildew – It is nearly impossible to find a pumpkin vine in August without powdery mildew. However, this disease does not have to affect production. The first decision a[Read More…]


We sometimes hear that excessive nitrogen could delay fruit set, stimulate excessive vine growth, and depress overall yield of pumpkins, but it is often unclear how much nitrogen is too much. This article reviews research on nitrogen fertilizer rates for pumpkins, and discusses the potential factors that might affect the recommended nitrogen rate. In a study conducted in 1987 and 1988 in Kilbourne, IL, four nitrogen rates were compared: 50, 100, 150 and 175 lb N/acre. The first three rates (50, 100 and 150 lb N/acre) were applied through fertigation, while the highest rate (175 lb N/acre)  was applied preplant and about a month after seeding. The study found the highest early and total marketable yields were obtained with fertigation of 100 lb N/acre. The lowest total yield was associated with the lowest nitrogen rate (50 lb N/acre). Fertigation with 150 lb N/acre and dry-blend with 175 lb N/acre delayed[Read More…]


The last two summers, I have had pretty good fungicide trials for powdery mildew of pumpkin. Since all of the products trialed are now labeled or close to being labeled, I thought it was time to share this information with vegetable growers of Indiana. First, a bit of background about this disease. In Indiana, powdery mildew affects primarily pumpkin and cantaloupe.  The disease is easily recognized by the talc-like lesions on both sides of the leaf. (This article will help with diagnosis.) If left uncontrolled, the disease can cause loss of foliage, loss of yield and lower quality fruit. The fungus that causes powdery mildew, Podosphaera xanthii, does not require leaf wetness for infection of leaves, only high humidity. The optimum temperature for disease development is 68 to 81°F. P. xanthii may survive in crop residue as a resilient fungal structure, but the disease is so easily windborne, that crop[Read More…]


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