Crop Profile for Pumpkin in Texas
Updated: June 2002
General Production Information
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.
|A Tall/Ornamental||5 to 10 lbs.|| |
|A Sugar or Pie types
|3 to 5 lbs.||7%|
|A Miniatures & decorative types
novelty gourd types)
|< 1 lb.||3%|
|Region||Acres||% of Total TX acres|
|West Texas||5,000 to 8,000||90%|
|East Texas||100 to 800||8%|
|Lower Rio Grande Valley||<10||0%|
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
Light tillage for seedling weeds
|Planting / Early season|
Seed treatments - applied by seedsmen
|Mid season Weed Control|
No issue- not exposed after REI is satisfied.
By farmer, no REI issues
|Fungicides applied 2 to 3 times max|
|Furrow-irrigated with little field entry, then applied 2 or more days after any pesticide.|
|Pre harvest/Harvest Prep|
|Apply Harvest Aids
|Post Harvest: Stalk plow down.|
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.
General Disease Control Strategies
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.
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.
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
||Rate||No. of App/Year||%of Acres Treated||No. of Acres||Total lbs. Applied||% of Total|
|Insecticide (mostly for squash bugs)|
Dr. David Bender,
Texas A & M Research and Extension Center at Lubbock.
Dr. Harold Kaufman,
Extension Plant Pathologist,
Texas A & M Research and Extension Center at Lubbock.
Mr. Marty Baker,
Texas A & M Research and Extension Center at Overton.
Steven G. Davis,
Texas Cooperative Extention - IPM Agent.
Several pumpkin producers and private crop advisors also provided information.