Field Applications of Fungicides Improve Postharvest Quality and Storage Life of Some Pumpkin Cultivars

in HortScience
Charles A. McClurgDept. of Natural Resource Sciences and Landscape Architecture, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742

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Commercial producers of pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) in the Mid-Atlantic region frequently experience losses from the fungal diseases powdery mildew (Erysiphe cichoracearum) and black rot (Didymella bryoniae). In addition to loss of fruit size in some cultivars, the diseases can result in poor-quality handles (fruit stems) and preand postharvest decay. Since the pumpkins are grown for fresh market ornamental use, their appearance, size, and quality are important in marketing strategies. Applications of recommended fungicides during the growing season, although costly, reduce losses in fruit size and quality from fungal pathogens. Subsequent storage studies have documented reduced losses and maintenance of handle quality of pumpkins treated with fungicides during the growing season. This suggests that those who want or need to store pumpkins prior to sale can evaluate costs and benefits of the program. Producers can also choose cultivars that are better suited to storage if fungicides will not be used.

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