Friday, July 9, 2010

Transitioning the Pumpkin Plant

When it comes to pumpkin growing a lot of it is timing. There are a lot of hormonal things that go on inside a plant. Surprisingly a lot of the chemical reactions inside the plant are the same as in people. When it is time to start pollinating pumpkins you see the effects of these hormonal changes in the pumpkin in the form of flowers. Sometimes, as growers, we have our own timetables that aren't necessarily the same as the pumpkins. The last week of June we like to pollinated pumpkins but that isn't always what the plant wants to do. Weather, stress, nutrient deficiency, to much of a certain nutrient can throw the hormonal balances off. As pumpkin growers, there are things we can do to help manipulate these balances and move things in the direction that will help with pumpkin growth.

Where the nutrients in a plant flow is called a sink. In early June the vines become a sink and as a result you see vine growth of a foot a day or more. In early July you want to transition the sink to the pumpkin. The best way to do that is to have your first side vines out to the edge of your pumpkin patch by the first week of July so you can terminate them. By doing so you start to transition the sink from vine growth to pumpkin growth.

My 1161 right now is in that transition. The first side vines were terminated the third week of June. The next week the next set of side vines were terminated. As of today about 75% of the side vines are terminated. This should be forcing the plant to put more energy towards the pumpkin and I have seen some improvements in growth from it. But with all of the rain we just had the plant is having a bit of a hard time getting out of vine growing mode so I have been seeing a bunch of tertiary vines popping up. I must have taken off 20 tertiary vines this morning inside the 1161 plant. The 1236 plant however is not seeing that kind of an issue. The pumpkin is growing very nicely and conversely I took off maybe 3 tertiary vines today. Eventually what should happen is that there will be very few places for the 1161 plant's energy to go so most of that energy should start flowing to the pumpkin and watch out when that happens.

Right now the 1161 and 1236 have less than 20% of their growing space remaining and I suspect that both plants will be completely terminated by the end of July. I predict that what is going to happen is that around the fourth week of July the 1236 pumpkin is going to be ahead of the 1161 pumpkin but by the beginning of the 2nd week of August the 1161 will pass it and end up being the bigger pumpkin. No way to know for sure when one is gonig to turn out biggest, but looking at these plants that is what my gut is telling me. I hope they both turn out to be monsters.


Anonymous said...

Good entry thanks. By the way I had a patch crisis this morning. A deer stepped on my main vine and smashed it shreds. (3 inches past pumpkin) It is still connected but looks like someone took a hammer to it. Should I bury it and see if it mends or cut it and work off an off shoot. I burried this morning, and took off pumpkin. Any thoughts?


Jamie said...

That stinks. What you should do really depends on how bad the damage is. I've had vines with holes in them from hail that keep having juices flow through them. Some growers actually terminate the vine right after the pumpkin on purpose. This reduces vine stress as the pumpkin grows. What they then do is let tertiary vines grow back off the last two side vines to fill in the space behind the pumpkin. That puts a lot of vines really close to the pumpkin to feed it.