Planting Date Influences on Yield and Fruit Size of Jack-olantern Pumpkins

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  • 1 Purdue Univ., Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Westville, IN 46391

In northern Indiana, jack-o-lantern pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo) can be planted from late May through June to produce mature fruit for sales associated with Halloween. Field trials were conducted to evaluate the influence of planting date on pumpkin yield and yield components. `Gold Medal' and `Magic Lantern' pumpkins were each seeded on three planting dates (PD) in 2002 (31 May, 10 and 20 June 10) and 2003 (5, 16, and 25 June). Each planting date was harvested between 100 and 110 days after planting. The weight per plant of pumpkins that were completely mature (orange) was greatest for the June 10 planting in 2002 (14.9 kg vs. 12.5 kg for 1st and 12.2 kg for 3rd PD), but did not differ among dates in 2003 (PD1: 10.9 kg, PD2: 10.4 kg, PD3: 9.0 kg). The number of orange pumpkins per plant was lowest for the 20 June 2002 planting (1.63 vs. 1.88 for 1st and 1.91 for 2nd PD) but did not differ among dates in 2003 (PD1: 1.08, PD2: 1.20, PD3: 1.19). The average weight of an orange pumpkin was lowest for the 31 May 200 planting date (7.17 kg vs. 8.35 kg for 2nd and 7.89 kg for 3rd PD) and highest for the 5 June 2003 planting date (10.6 kg vs. 9.07 kg for 2nd and 8.16 kg for 3rd PD). In both years the last planting date produced the least weight per plant, and in 2002 the fewest number, of pumpkins that had begun to turn orange plus fully orange pumpkins. The two cultivars produced similar weight per plant and responded similarly to planting date, but `Gold Medal' produced fewer and larger fruit. No planting date consistently produced the greatest yield or largest fruit.

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