One of the demonstration trials designed for the annual Pumpkin Field Day held for growers at the Western Agricultural Research Station in South Charleston, OH is a pumpkin and squash hybrid trial. There are two main purposes of the trial, 1) to allow growers to see firsthand the foliage and fruit (color, size, rind, handle, fruit set, etc.) of both commercially available and some experimental hybrids for potential inclusion on their farm in future seasons and 2) to reinforce the use of Powdery mildew tolerant or resistant hybrids as a key pest management practice which can affect fungicide selection, canopy cover, fruit quality and marketability.
The 2023 trial was extremely challenging to conduct at the station, as mice and voles ate over 80% of the planted seeds and transplants. Having a range of none to only a few surviving plants of the 20 hybrid entries after multiple rounds of reseeding and transplanting, a normal trial with yield results could not be conducted due to missing and reduced stand populations.
For the record, here are the trial details. The trial was mainly transplanted with some direct seeding on May 25-26. A spring oats cover crop was drilled on March 21 and terminated by applying glyphosate (32oz/A) from a shielded sprayer in specific trial areas, otherwise the field was not tilled. The lack of tillage and addition of spring oat cover crop plus droughty spring conditions were likely significant factors in the large vertebrate population in the field resulting in reduced stand. For weed control, a burndown and preemerge herbicide (glyphosate 32oz/A + Strategy 4pt/A + Dual 1.3pt/A) was applied on May 28. Soil tests revealed sufficient P and K levels, so only 70lb N (28-0-0) was sidedressed on June 20. Plots were originally 60’ long, planted on 15’ centers with in-row spacing of 3.5’. A recommended fungicide program was followed starting with first detection of powdery mildew on July 31.
Despite the huge impact mice and voles had on the trial, below is what was salvaged from the trial in terms of fruit size and additional comments but no yield calculations were possible. Looking forward to a “normal” trial next year. If you have comments about the trial or hybrids you would like to see included in the trial in 2024, send me an email at Jasinski.firstname.lastname@example.org.