Vol 120 (2007): Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society
Vegetable

Pumpkin as an alternative crop in a Northeast Florida Seepage-irrigated production system

Christine M. Worthington
University of Florida
Published December 1, 2007
Keywords
  • Cucurbita pepo,
  • Tri-County Agricultural Area,
  • jack-o-lantern,
  • ornamental,
  • heirloom

Abstract

Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L., C. maxima Duch., C. moschata Duch. ex Poir.) production was evaluated as an alternative crop for northeastern Florida farmers. Twenty-six cultivars were evaluated at the Florida Partnership for Water, Agricultural and Community Sustainability (PWACS) at Hastings farm in Hastings, FL, in 2006. Pumpkin cultivars were categorized into five classes or types (miniature, small-decorative, medium and large-sized jack-o-lantern, and specialty). Treatments were arranged in a randomized complete-block design with three replications. Total N, P, and K were applied at 258, 30, and 119 kg ha-1, respectively. Pumpkins were grown on raised beds with silver reflective plastic mulch using seepage irrigation. Plant spacing for vining and bush-type cultivars was 0.8 m within-row and 2.7 and 2.0 m between-rows, respectively. Seeds were planted 18 July and fruit harvested 9 Oct (83 days after planting). 'Lil' Pump-ke-mon' produced the highest yields in the "miniature" category (18.4 MT ha-1) followed by 'Hooligan' and 'Baby Boo' at 13.4 and 12.3 MT ha-1, respectively. In the "small decorative" category, 'Orange Smoothie' produced significantly higher marketable yields (25.8 MT ha-1) than all other cultivars in the category. Total and marketable fruit yields were not significantly different within "medium" and "large-sized jack-o-lantern" categories. Average fruit weights for these two categories were 2.5 and 3.1 kg, respectively. 'Cinderella', the highest yielding "specialty" cultivar, produced significantly higher marketable fruit yields (46.1 MT ha-1) than 'Long Island Cheese' (19.0 MT ha-1) and 'Lumina' (13.2 MT ha-1). Pumpkin variety evaluation should continue in northeastern Florida to identify cultivars with improved production characteristics to expand crop options.