Pumpkins are Ohio's third-largest fresh-market vegetable crop. Many non-traditional growers are planting pumpkins to increase gross income. Experienced growers have noticed that new producers are successful with low input. Are intensive production practices needed for a good crop? High and low input production schemes were studied, over 3 years on pumpkin yield and quality. High input consisted of Furadan at planting, reflective mulch, trickle irrigation, and a routine fungicide and insecticide spray program. Low input consisted of no mulch, no supplemental irrigation, and a reduced fungicide and insecticide program. The number of insecticide plus fungicide sprays for high vs. low input were: 10 vs. 5 in year 1; 5 vs. 3 in year 2; and 12 vs. 8 in year 3. Number and weight of marketable orange fruit in high-input plots were significantly higher than low input plots in year 1 and 3. Plastic mulch conserved soil moisture and resulted in 91% plant stand in high input vs. 57% in low input in year 1. The only year without a significant yield difference was when the difference in pesticide sprays was two. High input is suited for retail markets where the expectation is good yields of high quality pumpkins. Wholesale producers can probably get by with reduced inputs in certain areas.
The development of septoria leaf spot in processing tomatoes grown on conventional (bare soil) beds or beds with chemically or mechanically killed winter rye (Secale cereale L.) and hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) cover crop mulch with or without fungicide was examined. The two fungicide treatment programs included fungicide applied weekly (7 d) and a no fungicide control. In mulch bed systems without fungicide, septoria leaf spot caused ≈50% defoliation 10 and 28 d later in 1997 and 1998 than in the conventional system, respectively. In both years, area under disease progress curve (AUDPC) values for septoria leaf spot development were lower with the presence of a chemically or mechanically killed mulch compared with the conventional bed system when no fungicide was applied. In 1997, there were no significant differences in AUDPC values for septoria leaf spot development when fungicide was applied weekly. In 1998, AUDPC values were lower in both mulch systems compared with the conventional bed system when fungicide was applied weekly. At harvest in both years, defoliation was highest in the no fungicide control treatment. In 1997, marketable yield was significantly higher in both mulch systems compared with the conventional bed system. Conversely, in 1998, marketable yield was significantly higher in the conventional bed system than in either mulch bed system.
The effects of three bed systems [conventional (bare soil), chemically killed, or mechanically killed winter rye (Secale cereale) + hairy vetch (Vicia villosa) cover crop mulch] and five fungicide programs (no fungicide, 7-day fungicide application program, and Tom-Cast-timed fungicide applications at 15, 18, or 25 disease severity values) on marketable yield and soil-borne fungal fruit rot development in processing tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) production were studied. In 1997, marketable yield was higher in both cover crop systems compared with the conventional bed system. In 1997, percentage of anthracnose- (Colletotrichum coccodes) and ground rot-infected fruit (caused by Pythium spp. or Phytophthora spp.) were lower in both cover crop mulch systems compared with the conventional bed system. In 1998, marketable fruit yields were lower in both cover crop mulch systems compared with the conventional bed system. Percentage of anthracnose-infected fruit was lower in 1998 in the chemically killed cover crop mulch system compared with mechanically killed bed system. There were no differences in ground rot-infected fruit between bed systems in 1998. In 1998, percentage of total molded fruit in the chemically killed cover crop mulch system was reduced compared with the mechanically killed cover crop mulch system.
In 2001 and 2002, fall- and spring-sown, spring-killed or spring-sown living cover crops mulches were evaluated for their effects on pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) number and weight, fruit cleanliness, and fusarium fruit rot (FFR; Fusarium solani f. sp. cucurbitae race 1). In general, the number and weight of orange (mature) fruit and total fruit weight were higher in bare soil (conventional), fall- or spring-sown, spring-killed cover crop mulches compared with spring-sown, living annual medic (Medicago spp.) cover crop mulches. In both years, pumpkins grown on fall-sown winter rye (Secale cereale), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa), winter rye + hairy vetch, and spring-sown oat (Avena sativa) produced fruit numbers and weights comparable to or slightly higher than bare soil (conventional) production, suggesting that these cover crop mulches had no effects on reducing pumpkin yield. The number and weight of pumpkins grown in spring-sown, living annual medic cover crop mulches were reduced in both years compared with the other cover crop mulches. On artificially inoculated field plots, percentages of groundcover at harvest and fruit with FFR were 89% and 5% in fall-sown winter rye (seeded at 90 lb/acre), 88% and 10% in fall-sown rye (50 lb/acre), 85% and 5% in fall-sown rye + hairy vetch (50 lb/acre each), 19% and 30% in fall-sown hairy vetch (50 lb/acre), 23% and 23% in spring-sown oat (110 lb/acre), 1% and 25% to 39% in spring-sown, living annual medics (40 lb/acre) and 0% and 46% in bare soil plots, respectively. Results suggest that cover crop mulches such as fall-sown winter rye, fall-sown winter rye + hairy vetch, or spring-sown, spring-killed oat killed and left on the soil surface may help reduce losses to FFR in pumpkin production.