2021 Pumpkin and Squash Hybrid Trial Data

A hybrid pumpkin and squash hybrid trial was planted in the Western Ag Research Station in South Charleston, OH. There were 29 hybrids evaluated in the trial ranging from traditional jack-o-lantern fruit to more colorful or textured fruit from a variety of companies as seen in this group photo (Figure 1). The trial focuses on demonstrating foliage tolerance to powdery mildew as well as observing general plant health and growth patterns. A second function of the trial is to evaluate hybrid fruit size, shape, color, etc. and to obtain some estimates of yield and fruit numbers per acre based on our production methods. As these methods are likely to change from grower to grower, so will expected yields and fruit numbers. This report is only to provide an estimate of yield and fruit potential.

Figure 1. Group shot of pumpkin and squash fruit in 2021 trial.

Each plot in the trial was 50’ long and planted on 15’ row centers. There was no replication of the plots, so all data was collected from one plot. The trial was direct seeded on June 1 but nine hybrids were transplanted on May 27 due generally to later maturities so that all fruit would be mature by the pumpkin field day on August 26, which was successfully accomplished. In-row plant spacing was set at 3.5’ for all hybrids.

Harvest and fruit number data were collected on September 2 as all plots showed 95+% mature fruit. Three to five representative fruit were clipped and weighed from each plot, with all other remaining mature and immature fruit in each plot counted. Estimations of yield and fruit numbers for each hybrid are based off of 50’ row plots (0.017A) extrapolated out to a full acre.

For weed control, Strategy (4pt) plus Dual (1.3pt) plus glyphosate (32oz) per acre was applied pre-emergent followed by Sandea (1oz/A) between the rows prior to the vines running. Based on soil sampling no P or K was applied but ca. 75 lb N was sidedressed on using 28-0-0 on June 15.

For powdery and downy mildew control we began applying fungicides July 22 on a 7-14 day schedule following proper rotation guidelines, with the last application being made on August 30. Spray applications were made at 36 GPA at a pressure of 65 PSI using hollow cone nozzles.

Below are listed the basic information and some general notes about each hybrid in the trial listed alphabetically (Table 1). All yield and fruit number data are in Table 2, listed alphabetically by hybrid name.

Table 1. Basic information about hybrid entries including seasonal notes.


Table 2. Estimated yield and fruit count data for 2021 trial.

If you have any questions about the trial, please feel free to contact Jim Jasinski, Jasinski.4@osu.edu.

Sunshine on my pumpkins makes me unhappy

Sunburned pumpkins by handle. Note even handle is burned on one side.

This title should seem familiar as a slight twist on the famous John Denver tune from 1971. With temperatures in the low to mid 90’s for at least three days last week across most of the state, fruit that were not properly covered in the canopy were placed at a higher risk for getting sunburned.

Downy mildew infested field with no leaf canopy.

Based on observations over several years, fruit that are cut off the vine tend to burn more readily than those that remain on the vine, likely a function of being able to evapotranpirate enough moisture to stave off burning. As clade 2 downy mildew was reported on August 13 (active on pumpkin/squash), fields that were not protected suffered almost 100% defoliation with 10-14 days. Amazingly this photo with near total canopy loss had nearly no detectable sun burned fruit despite several fruit actually being desiccated to the point where they were shriveling in the sun! If these fruit were cut off the vine, I would have expected significant rind burning to occur.

While there are a few “white washing” products on the market to spray on fruit in the field to prevent burning, they have not been investigated at OSU. The best prevention is a good canopy through harvest. The next best strategies though more labor intensive would be to cut and move fruit to a shaded location to cure naturally. If fruit are in a u-pick patch, moving them to distinct piles and covering with shade cloth may also be a possible solution.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug populations still building

Another pest that we are actively monitoring using clear sticky traps and pheromone lures is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. This stink bug is known to feed on vegetables, grain crops, small fruit and tree fruit.

BMSB adults on sticky trap

While we are actively monitoring for this pest in eight counties, Adams, Athens, Greene, Seneca and Wayne counties are seeing trap catch increases, mostly related to adults. Late stage nymphs and adults pose the biggest threat to tree crops like apples, with their damage resembling several other types of injury such as hail injury or bitter pit (stink bug surface injury (L), internal injury (R); Celeste Welty).

Stink bug injury on apple, courtesy of Celeste Welty

Soon these adults will migrate from the fields to structures to seek refuge from the cold temperatures as they attempt to over-winter. If you have lived in Ohio for the past few years, you are no doubt familiar with these large brown stink bugs that invade your home or office in the fall.

While we only have established thresholds for this pest in apples, these were established in the mid-Atlantic and have not been vetted in Ohio yet. We would expect these thresholds to work well in Ohio but research has not been conducted to confirm the results. Monitoring strategies for vegetables, grapes and small fruit can be found here: https://www.stopbmsb.org/managing-bmsb/management-by-crop/

The monitoring system in apples requires two traps, one placed at the edge of an apple block and one placed in the interior. When the cumulative weekly total of both trap catches exceeds 10 stink bugs, an alternate row middle spray for BMSB may be justified. The details are outlined in this article: https://www.stopbmsb.org/stopBMSB/assets/File/BMSB-in-Orchard-Crops-English.pdf

Spotted-wing Drosophila still active on small fruit

Although we are moving toward the end of the season for most small fruit producers, keep in mind that spotted-wing Drosophila populations remain high across the state where traps have been placed on farms. Because of their short life cycle and abundance of ripe fruit, expect these populations to increase up until the first significant frost/freeze event.

SWD larvae in fruit

For growers who have abandoned their small fruit plantings for this year, SWD adults can easily be seen buzzing around ripe fruit as they oviposit eggs beneath the soft skin. Evidence of infestation can be readily seen as soft juicy fruit are filled with white SWD larvae. Even for growers who have maintained a regular spray schedule to control this insect, SWD adults can still be detected flying around bramble and blueberry patches albeit in lower numbers.

Since the threshold for this pest is only one adult per trap, it is necessary to maintain a spray schedule as long as the farm intends to harvest fruit. Once the decision has been made to end harvest, the sprays can be halted.

Grafted Watermelon Plants: Under What Conditions and Practices Does Using Them Offer the Best Return on Investment?

A lot of research is focused on answering that two-part question for watermelon and other crops (e.g., cucumber, cantaloupe, tomato, pepper). Full answers will emerge as growers and researchers share and integrate their experiences then evolve as circumstances change. Currently, most agree that using grafted plants is most beneficial when a resistant rootstock is selected to help offset the effects of a significant soilborne disease (e.g., Fusarium, Verticillium), regardless of crop. However, rootstocks with additional traits are being tested under other troublesome conditions (e.g., salinity, heat, cold, drought, flood). Growers are encouraged to listen as peers and research-extension and industry personnel share new information on the performance of grafted plants under various conditions. Information will be specific to crop, setting (field, high tunnel), system (conventional, organic), market, farm size, and other key variables.

Soil and other production conditions are not the only factors that influence the value of grafted plants to growers. Practices used to grow the plants are also important. Plant and row spacings (plant populations), irrigation and fertility programs, and planting and harvesting dates may also affect growers’ experiences with grafted plants.

Industry-research/extension partnerships can help fast-track arriving at answers to where and how grafted plants should be grown for growers to benefit most. We work with plots at OSU and on farms to understand the impacts of in-row spacing, fertility programs, and more on watermelon fruit yield and quality. Grafted and standard (ungrafted) plants are included in each experiment. Results from a multi-year study in Wooster through 2020 are summarized in a short video at https://go.osu.edu/vegeprosystemslab. Overall, fruit number and total weight have been significantly greater in grafted plots and at an in-row spacing of five versus four feet (between-row spacing of six feet in all cases). The results suggest growers can reduce plant populations but increase yield meaningfully – i.e., reduce plant costs while increasing income potential. Importantly, evidence of Fusarium in this experiment has been absent or minimal in all previous years. As explained and shown in the panels below, Fusarium is affecting the experiment significantly in 2021. Standard (ungrafted) Fascination and Sweet Dawn plants are very weak or dead while grafted versions of both (Carnivor, Pelops as rootstocks) remain healthy and vigorous. Harvest will begin soon and fruit yield data will be available by season’s end. Please contact me if you would like more information on this experiment or grafting.

Do You Use Insect Resistant Varieties/Hybrids on Your Farm?

Call for Ohio growers to participate in research.

Emily Justus is a PhD student at Purdue University working on documenting the use of insect resistant hybrids or varieties as part of an overall IPM strategy. If you have a few minutes to share your practices with her that would be very useful for her research program.

Calling all vegetable growers! Please help us learn about how you manage insect pests. I am an entomology graduate student at Purdue University and was awarded a grant from North Central Region – Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program to investigate vegetable grower pest management strategies. My goal is to understand how vegetable growers in Ohio manage their insect pests and use of integrated pest management strategies such as resistant varieties. Responses from carrot, celery, parsley, celeriac and dill growers would be helpful but all are encouraged to respond. I hope that this work will help extension educators serve you better!

The survey (link below) should take less than 10 minutes to complete and you can enter to win a hard copy of the Midwest Vegetable production guide! Thanks so much for your help!


Key Pests Still Rising…

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs
A few weeks ago we started trapping for Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs to catch their mid-season reproduction and movement toward preferred vegetable and fruit crops where they can feed and cause significant mid to late season injury. There were spikes of nymphs and a smaller surge of adults from the week before in Adams and Greene county, while Wayne, Lake and Huron counties remain at zero reported detections.

Spotted wing Drosophila
Catches of these insects in berry crops continue to be high in Greene and Geauga counties. With a treatment threshold of one adult per site, individual trap catches have ranged between 10 and 124 adults per week. Even with properly timed insecticide sprays and picking ripe fruit every two days if possible will not completely prevent damage to fruit, but it will be minimized. Berries must be protected until harvest is over or severe losses may be seen.

Corn Earworm

Corn earworm adults filled trap in two days.

For any mid to late season sweet corn, expect the next month or two to bring peak corn earworm flights from southern parts of the US, predominantly on storm fronts. Corn earworm populations have climbed this past week in Clark, Huron, and Lake counties and remain present in Wayne and Putnam counties. Zero CEW moths were reported trapped in Sandusky and Seneca counties.

Keys to successfully monitoring  CEW require the trap be placed at ear height near fresh silking corn and to change the pheromone lure every two weeks. Failure to do both will result in lower moths captured and a perceived lower threat of infestation leading to a wider spray interval and higher kernel damage and more caterpillars in the ears. In Clark county the trap total was 7 CEW for one week of captures with the trap emptied on 8/11 and moved to a new location about 1/4 mile away on the same farm near silking corn. The CEW trap was checked today (two days later) and captured several hundred moths (see picture at right).

European Corn Borer
This pest is still at low levels across the state according to our monitoring network, with Clark, Sandusky, Seneca, Wayne, Putnam and Wood counties reporting zero moths captured. Only Gauega and Huron counties have reported captures this past week (5 moths and 1 moth respectively). I was sent images of a bell pepper field in southern Ohio that had what appears to be a heavy infestation of corn borer caterpillars in the cap and stem of the fruit but no larvae or frass could be found in the fruit. As other crops begin to dry down, ECB will look for many other crops to lay eggs and cause potential feeding injury to the plant or fruit, so keep vigilant for that pest.

To see what other pests are doing, check out the OSU pest monitoring network at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KLU8rEoaz1Cnt9ILbUf77tSxOIriwZR0Xtj-wwNZgDA/edit?usp=sharing

The legal roundup: ag law questions from across Ohio

I recall sharing my concern with a professor when I was in law school:  how will I ever know all the answers to legal questions?  No worries, he said.  You can’t know the answer to every legal question, but you do need to know how to find the answers.  I think of that advice often as legal questions come across my desk.

We’ve had a steady stream of them this summer, and the questions provide a snapshot of what’s going on around the state.  Here’s a sampling of questions we’ve received recently, complete with our answers—some we knew and some we had to find. Read more…

  • What do you know about the $500 million to be set aside at USDA for meat processors—who will administer it and what is the timeline?
  • If I enroll my land in the Wetlands Reserve Program, does the land still qualify for Current Agricultural Use Valuation tax treatment?
  • Are there any special requirements for a cottage food producer for selling “gluten free” or “vegan” products?
  • Are there regulations pertaining to online sales of perennial plants?
  • Does a “Scenic River” designation by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources allow the agency to take my property that’s along the river?
  • Do I need a license to make and sell egg noodles from the farm?
  • Is raising and training dogs considered “animal husbandry” for purposes of d the agricultural exemption from township zoning authority?
  • Can both landowners be assessed half the cost of removal of noxious weeds that are growing in a partition fence?

BY  | AUGUST 10, 2021, Associate Professor and Director, OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program

Cucurbit Downy Mildew – One Day Update

Cucumber downy mildew, Hardin County OH. Photo by Francesca Rotondo.

Just after posting yesterday, July 30 I received a confirmed report of downy mildew in cucumbers in Hardin County. See that post for recommendations.

Cucurbit downy mildew outbreaks in Ohio counties. Red color indicates reports less than 7 days ago. https://cdm.ipmpipe.org


Pumpkin Field Day – August 26

Pumpkin flower.

It’s been approximately 730.5 days (but who’s counting) since the last in person pumpkin field day was held at the Western Ag Research Station (7721 S. Charleston Pike, South Charleston, 45368), so be sure to mark your calendar for Aug. 26!

The field day will start promptly at 5:30PM and end at 7:30PM. After a brief wagon ride out to the research and demonstration area, both new and experienced growers will hear at least four talks:
-How climate and weather impact Ohio vegetable crops (Dr. Aaron Wilson, Extension/Byrd Polar Center);
-Weed management and Reflex herbicide trial results (Tony Dobbels, Horticulture & Crop Science);
-Jim Jasinski (Extension) will give a brief update on the powdery mildew fungicide trial and germ plasm hybrid trial.
-We also have a visiting scientist from Purdue University, Dr. Dan Egel (Plant Pathology) who will cover general disease management or other hot disease topics at that time.

To attend the event you need to pre-register by August 24:

Even though the field day will be held outside we will still be following University Covid protocols which call for social distancing and possibly masks, so please come prepared. We will not be able to serve refreshments as we have done in the past so please bring your favorite beverage or water.

For more information on the event please see the attached flyer or contact Jim Jasinski (937-772-6014 or jasinski.4@osu.edu).

Pumpkin field day flyer