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Pumpkins growing in a garden.

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—While April showers bring May flowers, apparently July heat brings pumpkins. Temperatures in July are perfect for planting pumpkins. In order to have them ready for fall, growers have to plant at just the right time. An Extension specialist offers the following tips on planting and managing pumpkins.

Planting

Joe Kemble, an Alabama Extension vegetable specialist, said pumpkins should be planted by mid-July at the latest.

“Check the number of days to reach maturity, as some pumpkins may need to be planted a bit earlier,” Kemble said. “However, because it gets so hot so quickly in Alabama, you can generally knock 10 days to two weeks off of the days to maturity for most cultivars.”

According to Kemble, depending on the cultivar, planting from mid-June to mid-July is usually best.

“Plant too early and you will have pumpkins well before Halloween,” he said.

Managing

Kemble recommends completing a soil test in order to apply lime and fertilizer as recommended.

“Pumpkins are deep feeders,” he said. “Incorporate a lot of compost or other aged organic matter in to the soil.”

Kemble said pumpkins and other cucurbits love the heat. Pumpkin seed can germinate in soil temperatures up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit without any problems. Like other garden vegetables, they need about an inch of water per week. He suggests choosing cultivars with resistance to powdery mildew.

“It is much easier to manage this disease by using resistant cultivars, than needing to spray a fungicide to control this disease,” Kemble said.

More Information

Professionals found bacterial wilt on squash plants in Chilton County in early June 2019. If you’ve already planted pumpkins and notice yellowed leaves and wilting, consult the Auburn University Plant Pathology lab for assistance identifying bacterial wilt. Read more about bacterial wilt in a press release from June 2019.

The Vegetable Handbook is also an excellent resource for those growing pumpkins. The handbook contains the information to help growers manage vegetable crops, including which varieties to plant, planting dates, fertilizer recommendations, cover crop selection and conservation tillage options, pesticide selection, grafting, fertigation, plasticulture, postharvest handling, alternative pest management tools and suggestions and also many other topics.

For more information, visit Alabama Extension online or contact your county Extension office.

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