A guide on pumpkin farming on small farm
Please advise on commercial pumpkin farming on a small plot.
Large pumpkin varieties include Israel Giant, Egyptian Giant Dollar, Equitorial Giant, Giant Ugandan Pumpkin and White Giant from South Africa.
For commercial production, the most-preferred varieties are:
• Sweet sugar pie: Used for baking.
• Fairytale: A delicious variety.
• Cinderella: Very popular and has reddish-orange fruits.
Harvest Jack: Has dark orange fruits and is high-yielding.
Other varieties are Dills Atlantic Giant, Red Wirty, Howden and Wee bee little.
Soil type (pH)
Pumpkin farming does well on a wide range of soils as long as they are well-drained. The ideal soil pH is 5.5 to 7.0. Fertiliser type and watering needs:
Incorporate well-decomposed manure or compost at planting. A compound fertiliser NPK (15:15:15) may be used at the rate of 250-300kg/ha at planting depending on soil fertility. Generally, apply 15-20kg N/ha CAN three weeks after planting. Top-dress every 14-21 days. It is recommended to do soil and tissue analysis regularly.
Pumpkin requirements are slightly lower than those of other vegetable crops. Peak water requirements during rapid growth and development may average 90 per cent of reference evapotranspiration levels, decreasing to 70 per cent during the final growth period.
It has an extensive root system and can obtain available ground moisture, thus reducing irrigation requirements. It is important to note that excessive irrigation can reduce crop yields by leaching crop nutrients or promoting disease.
However, plant stress from limited water availability will also reduce fruit size and quality. Water stress will also lead to increased incidences of blossom end rot.
CREDIT: Carol Mutua, crop production specialist