About the crop
Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) is a popular vegetable of Kerala. It is a
rich source of potassium and Vitamin A. The bright orange color of pumpkin is an
indication of an important antioxidant, beta carotene. Beta-carotene is the precursor
of vitamin A in the body, which performs many important functions in overall health.
The name pumpkin is originated from "pepon" the Greek word for "large
melon." Central America is the centre of origin of pumpkin.
Climate & Soil
Pumpkin requires a minimum temperature of 18oC during early growth, but
optimal temperatures are in the range of 24–27oC. It can tolerate
low temperatures and are adapted to a wide variety of rainfall conditions. Pumpkin
tolerates a wide range of soil but prefers a well drained sandy loam soil that is
rich in organic matter. The optimum soil pH is 6.0–6.7, but plants tolerate
alkaline soils up to pH 8.0.
Arka Suryamukhi: High yielding variety released from the
Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bangalore. Small sized, flat-round
fruits with orange colour. Resistant to fruit fly attack. Suitable for growing in
Kerala condition during September-January.
Arka Chandan: A pure line selection released from the Indian Institute
of Horticultural Research, Bangalore. Fruits are round with pressed blossom end.
Rind colour green with white patches when immature which turns to light brown upon
maturity. Fruits are with thick orange flesh and rich in carotene, and has solid
cavity. Fruit weight is 2-3 kg. Average yield is 33 t/ha. Crop duration is 115-120
Ambili: High yielding variety released from the Kerala Agricultural
University. Average fruit weight is 4-6 kg. Medium sized flat round fruits.
Saras: A medium sized pumpkin variety with attractive flesh colour
and more flesh content, released from the Kerala Agricultural University. Average
yield is 39 t/ha. Highly suited for growing in Thrissur, Palakkad and Ernakulam
Suvarna: High yielding variety released from the Kerala Agricultural
University. Small sized flat- round fruits with thick orange flesh. Average fruit
weight is 3-5 kg.
Propagation & Planting
Approximately 1.0-1.5 kg of seeds are required for cultivating one hectare of land.
January-March and September-December are the ideal seasons for growing pumpkin.
For the rain fed crop, sowing can be started after the receipt of first few showers
during May-June. Prepare the soil to a fine tilth by ploughing and pits of 60 cm
diameter and 30-45 cm depth are taken at a spacing of 4.5 x 2 m. Well rotten FYM
and fertilizers are mixed with topsoil in the pit.
Sow four or five seeds in a pit at 1-2 cm depth. Deeper sowing delays germination.
As seedlings require ample water for quicker germination, a pre-sowing irrigation
3-4 days before sowing is beneficial. Irrigate with a rose can daily. The
seeds germinate in about 4-5 days. Unhealthy plants are removed after two weeks
and only 3 plants are retained per pit.
Pumpkin grows very fast and vines elongate rapidly within two weeks after planting.
Thereafter, the plant sends out lateral stems. Usually, pumpkin is grown trailing
on the ground. For trailing them, spread dried twigs on the ground.
Balanced fertilization is essential for high yielding and good keeping quality of
the fruits. Apply FYM @ 20-25 t/ha as basal dose along with half dose of N (35 kg)
and full dose of P2O5 (25 kg) and K2O (25 kg/ha).
The remaining dose of N (35 kg) can be applied in two equal split doses at the time
of vining and at the time of full blooming. A fertilizer dose of 70:25:25 kg N:P2O5:K2O/ha
in several splits is recommended in Onattukara region. The fertilizer dose per pit
would be 28:10:10 g N:P2O5:K2O.
During the initial stages of growth, irrigate at 3-4 days interval, and alternate
days during flowering/fruiting. Furrow irrigation is the ideal method of irrigating.
But in water-limited environment, trickle or drip irrigation can be resorted
to. During rainy season, drainage is essential for plant survival and growth.
Conduct weeding and raking of the soil at the time of fertilizer application. Earthing
up is done during rainy season. Hand or hoe weeding can be performed as needed.
Mulching is commonly used for pumpkin crops grown on raised beds. Use organic or
plastic mulch depending on availability. Mulch can be laid down before or after
transplanting and after sowing.
Fruit flies: Bactocera cucurbitae
Fruit fly is the most destructive insect pest of pumpkin. Fruit fly maggots feed
on the internal tissues of the fruit causing premature fruit drop and also yellowing
and rotting of the affected fruits. This fly is difficult to control because its
maggots feed inside the fruits, protected from direct contact with insecticides.
Control: Apply carbaryl 10% DP in pits before sowing of seeds to destroy the pupae.
Bury any infested fruits to prevent the build up of fruit fly population. In homestead
gardens, covering the fruits in polythene/paper covers help to prevent flies from
laying eggs inside the fruits. Breaking of soil to expose pupae, and burning the
soil in pit by dried leaves are also effective. It can also be effectively controlled
by the use of banana fruit traps.
Epilachna beetle: Epilachna spp.
The yellowish coloured grubs and adults of the beetle feed voraciously on leaves
and tender plant parts, and the leaves are completely skeletonized leaving only
a network of veins. When in large number, the pest causes serious defoliation and
Control: Remove and destroy egg masses, grubs and adults occurring on leaves. Spray
Pumpkin beetle: Aulacophora fevicolis,
A. cincta and A. intermedia
Adult beetles eat the leaves, makes hole on foliage and causes damage on roots and
leaves. Grubs cause damage by feeding on root. It also feeds on flowers and bores
into developing fruits that touch the soil.
Control: Incorporate carbaryl 10% DP in pits before sowing the seeds to destroy
grubs and pupae.
Aphids: Aphis gossypi
Aphids in large number congregate on tender parts of plant and suck sap
resulting in curling and crinkling of leaves. Ants carry aphids from one plant to
Control: Apply 1.5% fish oil soap. First dissolve soap in hot water and then make
up the volume. Alternatively apply dimethoate 0.05%.
Downy mildew: Pseudoperonospora cubensis
Cottony white mycelial growth is seen on the leaf surface. Chlorotic specks can
be seen on the upper surface of the leaves. It is severe during rainy season.
Control: Complete removal and destruction of the affected leaves. Spraying 10 %
solution of neem or kiriyath preparation. If the disease incidence is severe
spraying mancozeb 0.2% will be useful.
Powdery mildew: Erysiphe cichoracearum
The disease appears as small, round, whitish spots on leaves and stems. The spots
enlarge and coalesce rapidly and white powdery mass appears on the upper leaf surface.
Heavily infected leaves become yellow, and later become dry and brown. Extensive
premature defoliation of the older leaves resulting in yield reduction.
Control: Control the disease by spraying Dinocap 0.05%.
Mosaic(Cucumber Mosaic Virus)
Mosaic disease is characterized by vein clearing and chlorosis of leaves. The yellow
network of veins is very conspicuous and veins and veinlets are thickened. Growths
of plants infected in the early stages remain stunted and yield of the plant get
severely reduced. White fly (Bemisia tabaci) is the natural vector of this
Pumpkins are ready to harvest when the stems connecting the pumpkin to the vine
begin to shrivel. Harvest the fruits whenever they are a deep, solid color (orange
for most varieties) and the rind is hard. Pumpkins that are not fully mature or
that have been injured do not store well. Cut pumpkins from the vines carefully,
using pruning shears or a sharp knife leaving 3-4 inches of stem attached. Snapping
the stems from the vines results in fruits without stem attached, which reduce the