Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Marketing and Production


Published on

Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Marketing and Production

1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Marketing and Production

  1. 1. A project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology 1-800-346-9140 • www.attra.ncat.orgOrganic Pumpkin and Winter SquashMarketing and ProductionBy Janet Bachmann This publication is an overview of organic production and marketing of the cucurbits (Cucurbitaceae family)NCAT Agriculture commonly known as “pumpkins” or classified as “winter squash.” Production includes planting andSpecialist soil management, weed control, and management of insect pests and diseases, as well as post-harvestUpdated by protocols. Marketing looks at culinary varieties and varieties sold as ornamentals. A resource listKatherine L. Adam provides related information.NCAT AgricultureSpecialist© 2010 NCATContentsIntroduction ......................1Marketingconsiderations ..................3General ProductionInformation ......................4Soil and Fertility ...............6Planting ...............................6Weed Management........6Pest Problems ...................7Harvesting, Culling,Curing, and Storage .......8Conclusion .........................9References .........................9Resources ........................ 10 C. maxima on the vine. Photo courtesy of NRCS. Each species has among its types one (or more) Introduction commonly called a “pumpkin.” What is a pumpkin? Most pumpkins that fit the popular image of What is a squash? the round, orange, 15- to 25-pound, ribbed, T he terms “pumpkin” and “squash” do not stringy-fleshed, seedy fruit dotting farm fieldsThe National Sustainable correspond to any scientific taxonomy. after frost has killed the vines are not the typeAgriculture Information Service,ATTRA (, (See Goldman, 2004.) Four species of used today for human food—either fresh orwas developed and is managedby the National Center for cucurbits—distinguished by their stem structure canned. These pumpkins, typified by the Con-Appropriate Technology (NCAT).The project is funded through and the fact that they do not normally cross-polli- necticut Field variety, are grown almost exclu-a cooperative agreement with nate—include all the “pumpkins” and “squashes.” sively as ornamentals, although the Small Sugarthe United States Departmentof Agriculture’s Rural Business- • C. moschata (or New England Pie, 5 to 8 pounds) is com-Cooperative Service. Visit theNCAT website ( mended by some for its flavor. Local traditionsarc_current.php) for • C. mixtamore information on and common usage may dictate that a particu-our other sustainable • C. pepo lar variety is called a squash in one area of theagriculture andenergy projects. • C. maxima country and a pumpkin in another.(Reeves and
  2. 2. varieties Dickinson Field, Kentucky Field, and Buckskin (a hybrid) are “for all practical purposes” identical. University of Illinois Extension ( varieties) refers to processing pumpkins as “buck- skin-colored” and includes the Chelsey hybrid variety.(Wolford and Banks, 2010) Kathleen Delate’s Gerber trials at Iowa State found varieties of C. moschata ideal for the organic baby food market.(Delate, 2003; Adam, 2006) Additional C. moschata types called “pumpkins” include the Calabazza pumpkin (West Indies), Seminole pumpkin, and the Large Neck pump- kin (identified as the ancestor of butternut squash). Moschatas are typically necked and characterized by fine-grained flesh and excellent flavor. C. mixta “pumpkins” include the Southwest’s Green-striped Cushaw (so designated becauseHalloween crop art. NCAT photo by K. Adam. its flavor fits the pumpkin ideal). The Orange- striped Cushaw, however, is called a squash.Related ATTRA Glasener, 2004; Stephens, 2009; Wolford and C. pepo pumpkins such as Connecticut Fieldpublications Banks, 2010) vary greatly in size and color. Miniature pump-Biorationals: Pumpkins are now associated more with fall kins used as table decorations, often in arrange-Ecological Pest decorations than with winter food supplies. ments with miniature ears of colored corn, areManagement However, there is a market for the organic C. pepo. Since some other members of this spe-Database Halloween pumpkin.(Chait, 2009) cies have light-colored rinds (e.g., spaghettiCucumber Beetles: squash), it is not surprising that most “white Certain types of “pumpkins” of superior culi-Organic and pumpkins” are C. pepo. Cultivars include albino nary quality are commercially canned, tech-Biorational Integrated pumpkin, ghost pumpkin, Snowball, Lumina, nically fitting USDA standards and canningPest Management Baby Boo, and Cotton Candy. regulations for pumpkins and winter squashDowny Mildew (USDA, 1957; USDA, 1983). Pumpkin variet- The Long Island seed project (LISP, www.liseed.Control in Cucurbits ies for commercial canning are all C. moschata, org/whitepepo.html) provides an interesting his- tan-colored (rather than orange), firm-fleshed, tory of white pumpkins, beginning with theOrganic Standardsfor Crop Production: and elongated. Walter Reeves (a former Geor- introduction of Cotton Candy by the RuppHighlights of the gia Extension agent) of “Gardening in Georgia, Seed Company. The cultivar Casper is one of aUSDA’s National” says that the processing few C. maxima white pumpkins.Organic Program The C. maxima group is best known for giantRegulations Rohrbach Farm varieties of pumpkins and squashes. Atlan-Principles of After the 1993 flooding of the Mississippi– tic Giant began with 18th-century farmers onSustainable Weed the Atlantic seaboard crossing Kabocha squash Missouri River system, Mark Rohrbach of theManagement for with a number of C. maxima hubbard varieties. Rohrbach Farm, 60 miles north of St. Louis,Croplands Those crosses are the source of the giant pump- planted several acres of various types of orna-Squash Bug and mental pumpkins on low-lying fields formerly kins raised to compete in “biggest pumpkin”Squash Vine Borer: planted in soybeans, and for a few years the contests today.Organic Controls Rohrbachs operated a popular agriculture- entertainment venture. The colorful pumpkin Cucurbitaceae—the cucurbit family, consisting “crop art” attracted busloads of visitors to of gourds, melons, cucumbers, and squashes buy pumpkins and decorative squash—as (including pumpkins)—originated more than well as souvenirs, food, and drink—at the on- 9,000 years ago in Central and South America, the farm store. All pumpkins left over after the fall first of the “Three Sisters” (corn, beans, squash) holiday season became compost. to be domesticated. Squash was grown primarily for its edible seeds, since the flesh of early typesPage 2 ATTRA Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Marketing and Production
  3. 3. was bitter, like that of their present-day wildrelative, the Buffalo Gourd, C. foetissima, of thesouthwestern U.S.Long before Europeans set foot in the NewWorld, native South Americans cultivatedimproved varieties, seeds of which migratednorth, along with specialized native pollina-tor bees.(Cane, 2009) Squash and pumpkinsbecame a mainstay for the early colonists, whofound many culinary and medicinal uses forthem. The first pumpkin “pie” was actually apumpkin with its top cut off, seeds removed, andthe cavity filled with a mixture of apples, sweet-ener, spices, and milk. The top was replaced andthe entire thing was baked.How is a winter squashdistinguished from a Various types of white pumpkins. NCAT photo by K. Adam.summer squash?The stage of maturity when the fruit is ordinarily Marketing Considerationseaten is what commonly distinguishes a winter Table 1 below shows that production was steadysquash from a summer squash. Summer squashes until 2004 when it increased by almost 20%such as zucchini, yellow crookneck (and theimproved straightneck variety), patty pan, and and has held steady since then. In 2008 alone,cocozelle are practically inedible when mature. 43,400 acres of pumpkins were harvested for the fresh market and processing. Current statisticsAlthough winter squashes show peak flavor and lump together culinary and ornamental uses.texture when mature (and keep for a long time), Total production was 10.66 million pounds,they can also be consumed as immature fruits. valued at $13.20 per cwt—a marked priceIn the 18th and 19th centuries, Americans on the increase from the previous year.(USDA, 2009)frontier made a substitute for apple pie from imma-ture pumpkins. With the proper spicing, such Rain and drought in parts of the U.S. affectedpies are indistinguishable from those made with pumpkin and winter squash production fromthe tree fruit. A search through older cookbooks 2005–2008. Ranked by value of produc-reveals recipes for stuffed mature zucchini and its tion, most pumpkins are raised in New York,use in relishes, breads, desserts, and even pickles. Ohio, Illinois, California, and Pennsylvania.Table 1: Annual U.S. pumpkin production, 2001 through 2008 (USDA/NASS)Pumpkins (all types and uses) Acreage Planted Harvested Production Value of production Year Price per Unit (All Purposes) (All Purposes) (in cwt.) (in $1,000) 2008 45,600 43,400 10,663 13.20 140,765 2007 49,300 45,900 11,458 10.80 123,519 2006 47,800 43,700 10,494 9.98 104,623 2005 47,800 43,800 10,756 9.64 103,651 2004 49,200 45,000 10,135 9.04 91,609 2003 43,500 39,300 8,151 9.92 80,203Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), (“Crops and Plants”->”Fruits”->”Pumpkins”->Search) ATTRA Page 3
  4. 4. USDA/NASS does not collect separate statis- longer growing season than C. pepo and are tics on summer squash and winter squash. Total more suitable for commercial organic produc- squash production in 2008, from 42,400 har- tion.(Reiners and Petsoldt, 2009; Delate, 2002, vested acres, was 6.69 million pounds, valued 2003; Van Tine and Verlinden, 2003) at $30.50 per cwt., for total return of $204.3 Risk of crop loss is significantly increased for million—suggesting that culinary squashes pro- long-season varieties (C. mixta, C. maxima), due vide gross returns more than 30% greater than to increased exposure to drought, pests, and dis- returns for predominantly ornamental cucurbits. eases; however, Kabocha and Red Kuri genetics have provided some insect and disease resistance Organic pumpkin farm statistics for contest pumpkins. These Japanese types have Based on a sample of 1460 pumpkin farms excellent taste and texture, as well, and Red Kuri listed on, there may be 75 or matures in 90 days, unusual for C. maxima. more farms in the U.S. that market certified organic ornamental pumpkins. Of the remaining Besides having ornamental and culinary uses, 1,385 pumpkin farms, most advertise use of a pumpkins have long been used as stock feed. substantially organic production method—or Recently, their rough fiber has suggested their claim some alternative type of certification. inclusion in diets of household pets (dogs and Prospective growers of pumpkins or winter cats) with digestive problems (upon recommen- squash should try to locate a nearby farm and dation of a veterinarian, of course). make arrangements to visit it. For an in-depth If you are growing on contract, the process- look at no-till pumpkin production, see “Farm Profile: No-till Pumpkins at Cedar Meadow ing company generally specifies the variety to Farm,” below, and the farm’s website. plant—sometimes providing seed and growing guidelines. On-farm, value-added processing is rarely attempted, since additional organic han- Marketing for the table dler certification would be necessary to produce a processed organic product on the farm. If you are planning to raise organic pumpkins or squash, it is best to have a clear idea of your potential marketing channels from the outset. Marketing as decorations Some cultivars are most suited to marketing as The one obvious bright spot in on-farm, value- ornamentals; others are best marketed for culi- added marketing is decorative cucurbits sold nary purposes. Some of the best for organic in connection with a farm entertainment busi- growers are those closely related to the fi ne- ness. Besides conventional “pumpkins” in var- textured and -flavored butternut squash (C. ious sizes, ornamental cucurbits can include moschata)—as suggested by University of any with an interesting shape, color, or pat- Illinois pest resistance rankings.(Grupp, 2005) tern. Some necked squashes, can (like gourds) Many butternut types have only a moderately be displayed as animals, birds, etc. Gooseneck squash is a type of cushaw (C. mixta) closely related to the calabash. Turban squash are pop- ular items for farm stands. (See the illustrated “Squash Glossary” of the on-line food magazine Th e Nibble, vegetables/squash-glossary.asp.) Carnival (C. pepo) is basically a striped form of acorn squash. Giant Hubbard types are used mainly for ornamental purposes in the U.S., although they are sold in cut sections in Caribbean and Central American food markets. General Production Information Information on conventional production meth-Sales display, historic farm, Missouri. NCAT photo by K. Adam. ods is available from the Cooperative ExtensionPage 4 ATTRA Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Marketing and Production
  5. 5. Service in most states. Much of this infor- Organic farmers rely heavily on crop rotations,mation is useful to organic growers, as crop residues, animal manures, legumes, greenwell. However, information on organic soil manures, composts, and mineral-bearing rockfertilit y a nd orga nic weed, insect, a nd powders to feed the soil and supply plant nutri- ents. They manage insects, weeds, and otherdisease management is not so readily avail- pests with mechanical cultivation and cultural,able. The AT TR A publication Organic biological, and biorational controls. They do notCrop Production Overview is recommended use conventional commercial fertilizers, syn-to those seeking a better understanding of thetic pesticides, or synthetic growth regulators.the history, philosophy, and practices of Insect pollination of cucurbits is the norm, butorganic farming. hand pollination is possible.(Cane, 2009) Farm Profile: No-till pumpkins into residues of other previous crops has Fertilizer management at Cedar Meadow Farm been successful, Groff feels that it loses the Groff side-dresses, broadcasting 40 to Cheri and Steve Groff’s farm, Holtwood advantages of a seeded cover crop. 80 pounds of dry N (depending on the (Lancaster County), Pennsylvania, is a The cover crop is mechanically controlled contribution of the cover crop) approx- main source of ornamental pumpkins with a modified 10-foot Buffalo Rolling imately 3 weeks after planting, and for fall sales. Stalk Chopper. Groff also uses Roundup does some foliar feeding as well. He (not allowed in organic production). The sometimes uses supplemental fertilizer Nearly one-half of pumpkin acreage stalk chopper has two rows of rollers, (mainly ammonium sulfate, prohibited there is in no-till cultivation. Groff con- four in front and four in back, with eight in organic production). siders soil quality the foundation of success. He recommends several ways 23-inch blades per roller. The turning Avoiding soil compaction is a major aim for farmers to improve their soil. While rollers (with their parallel linkage so that of no-till. After a few years, Groff reports, Cedar Meadow Farm is not certified each roller floats independently) crimp soil becomes much less susceptible to organic and uses some pesticides, the the cover and push it down. They can be compaction as cover crops build up the following practices can be applied in run at 8 to 10 miles per hour. The machine soil structure. organic farming. is fast and economical, in Groff’s view. Lime and manure trucks are scheduled • Minimize erosion. While in a bad year Groff uses more on the field at the least susceptible • Use cover crops. pesticides, he has been successful in times, causing as little surface distur- • Practice crop rotation. eliminating all herbicides when he has bance as possible. • Use fertilizers that enhance a good thick mulch cover. A heavy cover Groff controls perennial weeds with soil building. is also ideal for organic growers. intensive crop rotations and occasional • Minimize the number and Direct seeding spot spraying (not allowed in organic weight of field operations. Groff direct seeds pumpkins 1 to 1.5 production). A roller-crimper machine • Minimize tillage. inches deep, with a customized Kinze can be used if the rye cover crop is • Minimize the use of pesti- no-till planter with Monosem row units, allowed to lodge before rolling and cides. (In organic production, Rawson coulters, Yetter parallel linkage, planting. A cover crop will not reliably use only approved pestcides, Martin spading closing wheels, and foam eliminate stubborn perennial weeds and then only as a last resort, markers. Seeds are planted in 50-foot such as thistles, bindweed, hemp, and when cultural and biological rows. The leading 13 wave 1-inch coulter dogbane. They must be eliminated strategies have failed.) is set on the row to cut 4 inches deep, to before going to seed. No-till helps keep Groff has been raising no-till pumpkins give a nice clean cut through the residue. the seeds of stubborn perennials buried since 1994, as part of his overall no-till veg- Row cleaners are set so that they don’t deep enough not to sprout. etable strategy. He frequently points out leave much soil showing on the row. For more information, especially the cleaner fruit that results from pumpkins Alternatively, Groff can plant seed- about common mistakes, see the maturing on crop residues or a cover crop. lings into killed cover crops with a cus- Groff website (www.cedarmeadow The foundation of Groff’s system is fall- tomized RJ Equipment carousel no-till seeded establishment of the cover crop transplanter. This transplanter has a Proceedings03.html), as well as Real Life on pumpkin fields. His favorite mixture is spring-loaded, 20-inch turbo coulter, Experiences in the Uses of Cover Crops 25 pounds of hairy vetch and 30 pounds of followed by a double-disk opener and ( rye—providing 40 to 50 pounds of nitro- a short shoe (to hold the transplant). Articles/Proceedings/Proceedings05.html) gen (N) per acre. Straight vetch residue Angled press wheels tuck the soil firmly and What Growers Can Do To Improve decomposes too quickly to protect the around the plant and leave virtually no Soil Quality (www.cedarmeadowfarm. pumpkins as they mature. Rye alone will soil showing afterwards, preserving full com/PublishedArticles/Proceedings/ not provide enough N. Although no-tilling mulch coverage for the whole season. Proceedings06.html) ATTRA Page 5
  6. 6. Soil and Fertility Greenhouse-raised transplants are commonly used in short-season parts of the U.S. Home Management gardeners sometimes decide to start seeds in Squashes prefer a well-drained sandy loam a greenhouse for later transplanting, using rich in organic matter and with a pH of 6.0 paper or other fi ber containers that can be to 6.5. The Cooperative Extension Service or easily peeled away from the roots, or tapered a soil-testing laboratory can provide nutrient pots so that plants can be easily slipped out. recommendations based on soil tests. Conven- Using one container for each seedling ensures tional production recommendations (when a minimum of root disturbance. Increased soil-test results are not available) are to apply labor and materials and waste disposal raise 50 pounds of nitrogen (N), 100 pounds of serious questions about using this method for phosphorus (P), and 100 pounds of potassium any but the smallest scale of production. In (K) per acre before planting, with additional certified organic production, organic potting applications of 25 pounds N and 80 pounds K mix must be used. per acre at 3 and 6 weeks.(Peet, 2001) Information about depth of seed placement and Th e following website from the University spacing is available from seed dealers. In general, of Georgia, seeds are placed about one inch deep, either inC ucurbits pubcd/C853/C853.htm, can assist in con- hills of several seeds, or in rows. If you are using verting conventional recommendations to a hill system, plant three to five seeds per hill, are organic fertilizer rates.(McLaurin and Reeves, then thin to one to three plants per hill. The warm- 2009) Or call the ATTR A information line hills can be spaced as closely as 4 to 5 feet apartseason annuals, (800-346-9140) for a print copy of University or as much as 8 to 12 feet apart (to allow addi-preferring 75° of Georgia Circular 853. tional space for later mechanical cultivation).to 86°F daytime Many organic growers use a winter annual If you plant in rows, perhaps with a mechani-temperatures and legume cover crop to supply some of the cal seeder, two to three pounds of seed per acre nitrogen requirements, increase soil health, should be sufficient to achieve the recommendedaround 64°F and suppress weeds. The system has many 3,000 to 4,000 plants per night. benefits, as well as several constraints. For more information on soil fertility, cover Weed Management crops, and related topics—including no-till Mechanical cultivation and hand hoeing options—visit the ATTR A website at www. before the plants begin to vine are time- Specifically, see Sustainable Soil honored methods of weeding. Cultivation Management and An Overview of Cover Crops should be shallow to avoid injuring roots. and Green Manures. Mulches, either plastic or from plant resi- due, are sometimes used to suppress weeds. Planting When using a plant-based mulch, avoid using Cucurbits are warm-season annuals, preferring hay because it can harbor weed seed. Drip 75° to 86°F daytime temperatures and around irrigation works well with winter squash 64°F at night. The seeds germinate most production because it is in the ground for the rapidly when the soil temperature is 86°F. entire growing season. The no-till cover-crop Winter squash and pumpkins can be direct- system mentioned earlier is one way to seeded as soon as the soil temperature reaches provide a weed-suppressing mulch of plant 60°F. They need 90 to 120 frost-free days to residues. The ATTR A publication Principles reach maturity. Plastic mulches of various colors of Sustainable Weed Management for Croplands can be used to increase the soil temperature and is cited, along with other sources, in the 2009 speed early-season plant growth. The ATTRA Cornell Cooperative Extension database Inte- publication Season Extension Techniques for grated Crop and Pest Management Guidelines Market Gardeners discusses pros and cons of for Commercial Vegetable Production: Cornell using plastic mulches—including disposal Organic Guide for Cucumbers and Squash. issues in organic production. (Reiners and Petsoldt, 2009)Page 6 ATTRA Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Marketing and Production
  7. 7. To avert aphid infestations in sustainable and Many growers have successfully used tractor- organic agriculture, growers find that preven- mounted tine weeders on squash. tion strategies are most effective. These include cultural techniques such as use of physical bar- The University of Vermont has produced a riers, mulching, crop rotation, border crops, and 75-minute video, Vegetable Farmers and Their cover crops. Both synthetic and living mulches Weed Control Machines, showing farmers demonstrating the use of machines listed have been shown to reduce populations of alate below for weed control.(Grubinger and (winged stage) aphids on plants, thereby reduc- Else, 1997) ing the incidence of aphid-transmitted viruses. Crops receiving high concentrations of nitrogen • Rolling cultivators are more susceptible (attractive) to aphids; there- • Finger weeders fore, slow release fertilizers may help to avoid • Basket weeders high aphid infestations. • Rotary hoes Other pest management strategies (Liburd and • Batwing shovels Nyoike, 2009) include monitoring and trap- • Field cultivators ping, using parasitods, predators, or pathogens, and applying horticultural oils. • Bezzerides tools • Flex-tine weeders See ATTR A’s “Biorationals: Ecological Pest Management Database,” • Sweeps attra-pub/biorationals, for information on • Custom flame weeders environmentally friendly pest management. • Stale seedbed rollers • Backpack flame weeders Diseases • Tractor-mounted flame weeders Downy mildew, one of the most serious foliar diseases of cucurbits, is caused by the fungus Pseudoperonspora cubensis. It thrives in damp weather when temperatures range between 45°Pest Problems and 55°F for more than a month. It is more ofInsects a problem in cooler areas than in warm areas. Symptoms first appear as yellow patches onPumpkins and winter squash are among the the leaves that then become tan or brown withmost resistant of the cucurbits to certain diseases white or gray downy fuzz underneath. As theand insect damage. disease worsens, the patches turn sooty black.Squash bugs (Anasa tristis DeGeer) are not As the leaves die, the plants may also shrivel andoften considered a severe pest of large-scale die. Fruit quantity and quality are reduced.cucurbit production, probably due to the To avoid downy mildew, plant tolerant cultivars,absence of suitable overwintering sites in well- grow vines with plenty of space between them,managed crop fields and because the bug’s spray vines with compost tea when conditionseffects are diluted by the vast acreage. Small are right for the disease to occur, and practicefields and home gardens are commonly dam- a three-year rotation. For more details, see theaged, however.(Capinera, 2003) Squash vine ATTRA publications Downy Mildew Control inborer, if precautions are not taken, can kill Cucurbits and Notes on Compost Teas.the vines before the fruits mature. Cucumberbeetles are also a problem because they spread Powdery mildew is another major foliar dis-bacterial wilt (see below). Positive identification ease of cucurbits. Several different fungi causeof such pests should be sought locally (usually it. Symptoms are a whitish, talcum-like growthfrom your county Extension). For an extensive on both the leaf surfaces and stems. Warmdiscussion of strategies for dealing with these weather—coupled with high humidity, rainfall,insect pests in certified organic production or dew—activates dormant spores that infectsystems, see the ATTRA publications Squash the leaves. The disease is most severe when daysBug and Squash Vine Borer: Organic Control are hot and nights are cool. Older, fruit-bearingand Cucumber Beetle: Organic Control. plants are affected first. Infected leaves ATTRA Page 7
  8. 8. wither and die. In extreme cases, the entire vine The symptoms of mosaic viruses vary but will die. include mosaic patterns, leaf mottling, ring spots, blisters and fruit deformation. Besides the To avoid powdery mildew, plant resistant cul- use of certified virus-free seeds, control measures tivars, control insects, avoid overhead watering, are aimed at minimizing the presence of cucum- spray vines with compost tea or a baking soda ber beetles. Strategies for controlling mosaic solution, remove and destroy vines at the end of viruses in pumpkins and squash: each season, and rotate crops. See the ATTRA publication Use of Baking Soda as a Fungicide for • Control cucumber beetles and aphids more information. • Eradicate biennial and perennial weeds • Plant resistant varieties Black rot (on fruits) is also called gummy stem blight (on leaves and stems) and is most com- • Remove infected plants when symptoms mon in the southern U.S. It is also found in first appear cooler regions, especially on winter squash and • Since later plantings (mostly in the pumpkins. The fungus Didymella bryoniae South) are at greater risk due to build- causes black rot. It lives on dry plant material ups of insect populations and disease, or in the soil, where it can survive for more than plant them as far away as possible from a year. Free water on leaves for at least one hour early plantingsD iseased is necessary for infection, and further continu- Bacterial wilt is caused by the bacterium Erwinia fruits ous leaf wetness is required for lesion expansion. tracheiphila, which overwinters in the bodies of and vines Fruits are infected either through wounds or by the striped and 12-spotted cucumber beetles. Inshould be immediately the extension of leaf lesions. Black rot can cause the spring, the beetles emerge from the ground loss of squashes and pumpkins in storage. and feed on young plants, introducing bacteriabagged for off-site To avoid black rot, manage irrigation to into the leaves or stems. The bacteria reproducedisposal and not in the water-conducting vessels, producing gums minimize moisture on leaf surfaces, andcomposted. use a minimum two-year crop rotation. “A that interfere with water transport. The beetles and moisture film from dew, rain, or overhead bacteria are so intimately related that controlling irrigation is necessary for spore germination.” the beetles will control infection by the bacteria. (Miller et al., 1996) Once infection has occurred, however, no control is possible, and wilting plants should be removed, Angular leaf spot is a bacterial disease caused if practical. The disease is not seed-borne. by Pseudomonas syringae pv. lachrymans. Th is disease occurs on all continents on cucumbers, Local county Extension offices or land-grant gherkins, muskmelons, pumpkins, squash, vege- universities can help in positively identifying table marrows, and watermelons. The bacterium plant diseases. causes spotting on the leaves, stems, blossoms and fruit. It favors warm, humid climates and Harvest, Culling, Curing can cause fruit to drop or become disfigured. Strategies for control: and Storage • Use disease-free seed Winter squash is judged ready to harvest by the hardness of the shell—it should not be able to • Use hot water treatment on seeds known to be affected by the bacteria be penetrated with a fingernail or have tinges of green (if a light-colored squash). Another indi- • Assume three-year old seed to be cator is that vines are mostly dead.(Blanchard, disease free 2000) Culinary types that are damaged • Rotate away from all hosts for two years. by insects or machinery should be culled for • Avoid excessive nitrogen canning or freezing. Ornamental types can be • Do not plant in fields that receive composted or possibly used for animal feed. runoff water from other cucurbit fields Diseased fruits and vines (at whatever stage) • Avoid overhead irrigation should be immediately bagged for off-site • Avoid working in the fields or harvesting disposal and not composted. while the plants are wet For long-term storage, undamaged winter • Cut, rather than tear, fruit from stems squash and pumpkins are cured for 7 to 10 days to avoid post-harvest rots at 80° to 85°F. In general, longest term storagePage 8 ATTRA Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Marketing and Production
  9. 9. is achieved at 50°F and 60% relative humidity.(Sargent and Treadwell, 2009)ConclusionWinter squash and pumpkins, native to theWestern Hemisphere, provide many market-ing opportunities for growers. Specific variet-ies are grown for commercial canning, othersfor winter storage, ornamentals, or immediateuse. At least 75 farms in the U.S. grew organicpumpkins in 2009. The largest U.S. market formost types of pumpkins and winter squash isas ornamentals and in entertainment farming.Pumpkins and winter squash are among themost resistant of the cucurbits to insect anddisease damage. Specific control strategies areused in organic production. NCAT photo by K. Adam.ReferencesAdam, Katherine. 2006. Squash Bug and Squash Vine Groff, Sheri and Steve Groff. n.d. No-tillage pumpkins.Borer: Organic Controls. ATTRA. www.cedarmeadowfarm.comattra-pub/squash_pest.html Grubinger, Vern, and Mary Jane Else. 1997. VegetableBlanchard, Chris. 2000. Harvest timing critical for winter Farmers and Their Weed Control Machines (video).squash. Growing for Market. September. p. 1, 4–5. University of Vermont Extension. berry/Videos/weedvideo.htmCane, Jim. 2009 (last modified). Squash Pollinators of theAmericas Survey (SPAS). USDA/ARS. Grupp, Susan M. 2005 (rev. 2009). The bug review website:Research/docs.htm?docid=16595 Squash vine borer. Cooperative Extension, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL., John L. 2003 (rev. 2008). Squash Bug (Anasa squashvineborer.htmltristis DeGeer)(Insecta: Hemiptera: Coreidae). Universityof Florida Extension Division Information Service (EDIS), Liburd, O.E., and T.W. Nyoike. 2009. Biology and Manage-Gainesville, FL. ment of Aphids in Sustainable Field Production of Cucurbits. University of Florida Extension, Gainesville, FL. http://edis.Chait, Jennifer. 2009. Pros and cons of organic Halloween Jennifer Chait Gardening Blog. August McLaurin, Wayne, and Walter Reeves. (rev. 2009). How To Convert an Inorganic Fertilizer Recommendation to anDelate, Kathleen. 2002. Progress Report to Gerber Products, Organic One. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension,Inc.: Organic Squash Pest Management Trials and Heir- Athens, GA.loom Vegetables. January 9. Iowa State University, Ames,IA. Miller, Sally A., Randall C. Rowe, and Richard M. Riedel.gerber.pdf 1996. Gummy Stem Blight and Black Rot of Cucurbits. Ohio State University Extension, Columbus, OH.Delate, Kathleen. 2003. Progress Report to Gerber Products, Organic Squash Trials. February 12. Iowa State Uni-versity, Ames, IA. Nibble, The. 2010. Squash Glossary. (website)researchreports/gerber02.pdf, Amy. 2004. The Compleat Squash: A Passionate Peet, Mary. 2001. Crop Profiles: Squash, Gourd, Pumpkin.Grower’s Guide to Pumpkins, Squash, and Gourds. Artisan Sustainable Practices for Vegetable Production in the South.Books, NY. [Note: Amy Goldman is president of the BOD of North Carolina State University, Raleigh. www.cals.ncsu.Seed Savers Exchange, Decorah, IA.] edu/sustainable/peet/profiles/ ATTRA Page 9
  10. 10. Reeves, Walter, and Erica Glasener. 2004. Georgia Gardeners Winter Squash. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.Guide. Rev. Ed. Cool Springs Press, Brentwood, TN. managing_insects_and_diseases _in_pumpkins_and_winter_Reiners, S., C.H. Petzoldt, and M.P. Hoffmann (eds.). 2009.Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management: squash.htmlCrop Management Practices, Cucurbit Crops. Cornell Knebusch, Kurt. 2009. USDA CSREES News Release:Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, NY. Controlling Perennial Weeds on Organic Farms.pp/resourceguide/pdf/cucurbit.pdf, S., and C.H. Petzoldt (eds.). 2009. Integrated Crop weed_control.htmland Pest Management Guidelines for Commercial Vegetable Layton, Blake. Organic Insect Control for Commercial Vege-Production: Cornell Organic Guide for Cucumbers and table Production. Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS.Squash. Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, NY. 50 p. McCormack, Jeff. 2009. Organic Cucurbit Seed Production:Sargent, Steven A., and Danielle Treadwell. 2009. Guide for Organic production of high-quality cucurbit seed in theMaintaining the Quality and Safety of Organic Vegetables Mid-Atlantic and South. Garden Medicinals and Culinaries,and Melons During Harvest and Handling Operations. Mineral, VA. of Florida Extension, Gainesville, FL. seed-production-C6593 Organic Harvest Network (website) www.organicharvestStephens, James M. rev. 2009. Pumpkin—Cucurbita spp. network.comUniversity of Florida Cooperative Extension, Gainesville, Richards, Keith. 1994. Growing pumpkins for a harvestFL. festival. Farming More Sustainably in the South, Vol.USDA. 1957. United States Standards for Grades of Canned 1. Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group. p.Pumpkin and Canned Squash. 24–27. www.ssawg.orggetfile?dDocName=STELDEV3010797 Various authors. 2000. Organic Vegetable Production inUSDA. 1983 (reproduced 1997). United States Standards California Series. Vegetable Research and Informationfor Grades of Fall and Winter Type Squash and Pumpkin. Center, University of California, Davis, CA.Fresh products. Publications in on-going series, written by county ExtensionUSDA/NASS. 2009. Vegetable Production Statistics. agents, cover topics of soil quality and fertility; of weeds, insect pests, and diseases; post-harvest handling, and organic certification.Van Tine, Melissa, and Sven Verlinden. 2003. Managing Zitter, Thomas A., Donald L. Hopkins, and Claude E.Insects and Disease Damage under an Organic System.West Virginia Extension, Morgantown, WV. 3 p. Thomas. 1996. Compendium of Cucurbit American Phytopathological Society (APS) Press, CT. [Spanish language version available.]Wolford, Ron, and Drusilla Banks. 2010. Pumpkinsand More. University of Illinois Extension, Urbana, IL. Organic Research Databases CABI Organic Research Database (Centre for AgriculturalResources Bioscience International) of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. Scientific Congress on Organic Agricultural Research2009. Squash, Pumpkins, and Gourds. Purdue University, (SCOAR) www.organicaginfo.orgWest Lafayette, IN. Collection of links. USDA/CSREES Organic Vegetable Production Systemsrhodcv/hort410/squash/squash.htm Wiki, www.extension.Estes, Edmund A., Tony Kleese, and Laura Lauffer. 2003. org/article10598North Carolina Organic Vegetable Production CostStudy. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC. Organic Seed Production Bonina, Jennifer, and Daniel J. Cantliffe. 2009. SeedHollingsworth, Craig, John Howell, and Robert Wick. Production and Seed Sources of Organic Vegetables.2008. Managing Insects and Diseases in Pumpkin and 10 ATTRA Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Marketing and Production
  11. 11. McCormack, Jeff. Organic Cucurbit Seed Production. McCormack, Jeff. Organic Seed Processing and Storage.Saving Our Seed Project. Garden Medicinals and Garden Medicinals and Culinaries, Mineral, VA. 28 p.Culinaries, Mineral, VA. 36 p. Specific to Mid-Atlantic and South. Funderburk, Sharon. 2008. Production of Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash for the OrganicMcCormack, Jeff. Isolation Distances. Baby-Food Market (2 parts). Virginia BiologicalGarden Medicinals and Culinaries, Mineral, VA. 21 p. Farming Conference, Feb. 15-16, Richmond, ATTRA Page 11
  12. 12. Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Marketing and Production By Janet Bachmann, NCAT Agriculture Specialist Updated by Katherine L. Adam NCAT Agriculture Specialist © 2010 NCAT Holly Michels and Paul Williams, Editors Amy Smith, Production This publication is available on the Web at: or IP371 Slot 214 Version 092710Page 12 ATTRA