Pumpkins are grown yearly in South Africa. Pumpkins are being produced countrywide in South Africa with the main areas being: Mpumalanga, Vryburg, Western Cape, and Vereniging. About 40 000 h/a of pumpkins are grown yearly in South Africa.
Recommended cultivars are:
Carving – Autumn Gold, Gost Rider – takes 90 days to mature.
Small / Pie Type – Amish Pie, small sugar – takes 90 days to mature.
Giant Pumpkin – Big Max, Big Moon – takes 120 days to mature.
Growers supplying wholesale markets want heavy and uniformly sized pumpkins with strong, dark – colored stems and a deep, bright colour. Growers should keep track of the many new varieties of pumpkins available each year, consider the market, and plant varieties that are best suited to their operations.
Pumpkins grow well and produced excellent quality fruit in rich, light – textured soils. Sandy loam or well-drained loamy fertile soils, ideally deeper than 1000mm, are ideal for pumpkins. However, heavier soils can also be used as long as the drainage is adequate. The optimum soil pH is between 6 and 7.5.
Planting on a raised bed promotes drainage, so the roots do not have to deal with constant wetness, which leads to disease problems. The seeds can be planted directly in the site where they will mature. Pumpkins are usually planted in hills. Plant two to three seeds per hill about 2,5cm deep and later thin to one plant per hill.
The plants respond to liberal dressings of manure and compost, which also help the soil to retain moisture. Pumpkins appreciate to be treated generously throughout their growth period. Good feeding for pumpkins is liquid manure applied at intervals of 2 – 3 weeks, starting when the first flower buds open.
Most pumpkins reach maturity at 3 or 4 months after sowing. The fruit is harvested when the skin becomes hard and lose its shiny appearance.
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