Crop Profile for Pumpkin in Texas

Updated: June 2002

General Production Information

Management:

Harvest:

Varieties and Production:

Most Common Types Pumpkin Size % of Total Acreage
A Huge (Big Mac, Prize Winner) 50 to150 lbs 5%
A AJack@ types (Howden)

15 to 25 lbs.

75%
A Tall/Ornamental 5 to 10 lbs.

10%

A Sugar or Pie types
(Spirit, Jewel)
3 to 5 lbs. 7%
A Miniatures & decorative types
(Jack-Be-Little, multi-colored,
novelty gourd types)
< 1 lb. 3%

Production Areas

Region Acres % of Total TX acres
West Texas 5,000 to 8,000 90%
East Texas 100 to 800 8%
North Texas 300 2%
Lower Rio Grande Valley <10 0%

 

 

Cultural Practices

 

Assessment of Field Worker Tasks in Pumpkin

Production: Pumpkin production is mechanized except for scouting, light hoeing, & harvesting.

Tasks Worker- REI/Pesticide Issues
Prior to planting
Soil prep. / field operation
Spray weeds

Light tillage for seedling weeds
Glyphosate 10 days before planting

Planting / Early season
Planting
Weeds

Seed treatments - applied by seedsmen
100% treated with a herbicide before/at planting

Mid season Weed Control

Hand weeding
Herbicide Use

No issue- not exposed after REI is satisfied.
10-15% of acreage treated with post herbicides

Insects/Insecticide
Scouting
Insecticides

By farmer, no REI issues
100% treated, 90% by air
No re-entry needed for 2 days

Diseases/Fungicide
Fungicides applied 2 to 3 times max
Irrigation
Furrow-irrigated with little field entry, then applied 2 or more days after any pesticide.
Pre harvest/Harvest Prep
Apply Harvest Aids
Harvest

None used
Few pesticides applied within 4 to 6 weeks of harvest.
Harvested by hand, in early October

Post Harvest: Stalk plow down.

 

 

Insect Pests

 

General Insect Control Strategies

Squash Bug (Key Pest)
A key pest in 100% of the fields; cause more losses than all other insects. Causes wilting of vines, reduced yields, poor quality, and plant death. Adults have a hard, impervious shell so growers must treat the nymphs. Scouts look for egg masses on undersides of leaves. Treated when most of the eggs have hatched and nymphs are still small. Careful scouting to determine squash bug present, followed by sequential treatments results in good control with the least chemicals. But squash bugs are hard to kill.

Spotted Cucumber Beetle (Occasional Pest)
Outbreaks occur one year out of four. Sprayed as needed, based on scouting. Adults feed on young pumpkin plants. Larvae feed on crop roots. Soil burial of previous crop helps destroy overwintering habitat of adult beetles.

Striped Cucumber Beetle (Occasional Pest)
Most damaging during hot, humid weathers after crop emerges. Vectors bacterial wilt. Destruction of crop debris helps prevent overwintering scouted and sprayed as needed.

Squash Vine Borer (Occasional Pest)
Borers overwinter in the soil, emerge in late spring, bore into stems, and tunneled vines die. Stalks destruction after harvest reduces infestations next year.

 

 

Diseases

 

General Disease Control Strategies

Powdery Mildew
The major disease problem in pumpkins causes most damage late in the season. Plants develop white, powdery spots. The fruit is not attacked directly, but become malformed or develop sun scald if the pumpkins lack leaf coverage. Yield losses of 30% or more may occur in untreated fields. Fungicides applied at 14 day intervals, usually in 1 to 4 applications, when vines begin to run (by mid August). Fungicides use varies depending on rainfall, cool nights, and morning dew. Complete fungicide coverage is essential. Fungicides are alternated within a field in resistance management plans.

Anthracnose
Appears on foliage as small yellow or reddish-brown and turns brown. Appears on fruit as circular, water-soaked, sunken lesions that vary in size with age. The disease is favored by warm, wet weather. Since anthracnose can live in or on seeds, growers plant disease-free seed or seed treated with a fungicide. Crop rotations significantly reduce anthracnose outbreaks. To reduce the spread growers try to avoid working when plant foliage is wet. Stalks and vines are destroyed after harvest.

Angular Leaf Spot
Angular leaf spot discolors the internal flesh of pumpkin and overwinters on seeds and diseased crop debris. Bacteria are spread by splashing rain, mechanical movements among wet vines, and is favored by warm, moist weather. Growers plant good quality seed and destroy crop debris in the fall after harvest and use a three to four year crop rotation to decrease survival of the angular leaf spot pathogen. Disease prevention is possible with repeated protective sprays.

Gummy Stem Blight
A seedborne fungus that invades at the crown of the pumpkin plant and progresses outward toward the veins. Favored by warm, wet weather and usually occurs in conjunction with other foliar diseases. Some pumpkin varieties have some tolerance, such as Howden types, Small Sugar, Spookie, and Thompson Halloween. Growers plant fungicide-treated seeds and avoid fields with a history of gummy stem blight. Rotations reduce build up of the pathogen. Complete fungicide coverage is essential.

 

 

Weeds

General control strategies

Pumpkin vines grow four to six inches a day once plants are established. Early weed control at seedling stage is very important to avoid reducing yields later. Vines spread rapidly. Weed development is reduced later as the crop shades soil. 100% of pumpkin acreage is cultivated for weeds, 1.5 times a year. Because of vine growth, pumpkins can only be cultivated for the few weeks (up to July 15) before runners fill the middle. Cultivation then prunes roots and vines and reduces yields. 70% to 100% of the pumpkin fields are hand-hoed to remove spotty infestations or escaped weeds.

Herbicide use: Wheat is harvested and weeds are killed and then pumpkins are planted. The crop is planted into a stale seed bed. Soil applied herbicides and tillage are still essential to control weeds.

Preplant: A few growers apply trifluralin in the winter. Glyphosate is applied in conservation tillage/wheat stubble program.

Preemergence: After the crop is planted, PE herbicides are used in conjunction with tillage to control weeds.

Before Vines Run: Some growers apply a herbicide to soil during the last tillage, since further cultivation is not possible. If weeds occur after tillage, over-the-top herbicide treatments are essential to avoid yield loss, reduction in punkin size, and so field hands can harvest the crop. Pumpkins are frequently planted into wheat stubble from the previous year (conservation tillage). Glyphosate is applied prior to planting to kill weeds. Use of Roundup Ready crops (Cotton mostly has reduced weed problems in pumpkins.

 

Table 2: Pesticide use in Texas Pumpkins

Chemical
Rate No. of App/Year %of Acres Treated No. of Acres Total lbs. Applied % of Total
Insecticide (mostly for squash bugs)
Bifenthrin* 0.1 2 90 6,000    

Endosulfan

0.4

1.5

100

6,000

1,100

 
Esfenvalerate*

0.05

1.2 20 6,000 72  
Permetherin* 0.05 1.0 5 6,000 15  

*Synthetic Pyrethriods

4,787

38%
Fungicide
Azoxystrobin 0.1 1.0 80 6,000 480  
Trifloxystrobin 0.1 1.0 80 6,000 480  
Myclobutanil 0.12 1.0 80 6,000 576  
 
1,536

12%
Herbicide
PPI Trifluralin 0.5 1.0 20 6,000 600  
PE Clomazone 1.0 1.0 15 6,000 900  

Sonolan
1.0 1.0 10 6,000 600  
POST Sethoxydim
0.28
1.0 10 6,000 168  
ConTill Glyphosate 1.0 1.0 65 6,000 3,900  
Paraquat 0.65 1.0 2 6,000 78  
          6,246

50%

        TOTALS 12,569 100%

 

 

 

Contacts

Dr. David Bender,
Research Horticulturalist,
Texas A & M Research and Extension Center at Lubbock.
D-bender@tamu.edu

Dr. Harold Kaufman,
Extension Plant Pathologist,
Texas A & M Research and Extension Center at Lubbock.
h-kaufman@tamu.edu

Mr. Marty Baker,
Extension Horticulturalist,
Texas A & M Research and Extension Center at Overton.
m-baker@tamu.edu

Steven G. Davis,
Texas Cooperative Extention - IPM Agent.
Crosby, Texas.
S-davis@ag.tamu.edu

Several pumpkin producers and private crop advisors also provided information.