Tuesday, March 8, 2022

New & Improved Put it to the Floor, Giant Pumpkin Fertilizer Program

Are you ready to rock!  That is what this new and improved 2022 giant pumpkin fertilizer program makes me want to say.  I'm excited about it. Why?  Because I think it has the answers to a question I've been asking since the first year I put a giant pumpkin plant is the soil.  How much to fertilize?  This last year I increased my fertilization, but what I found is I didn't do enough. 

As a matter-o-fact, I was still way under fertilizing I've found, based on what I've learned from other growers and seen form my own experience.  And I'm fertilizing probably not soon enough in the season.  How do I know this?  I asked the experts, starting with Utah's own record holder Ross Bowman.  At the patch tour I asked him how much potassium he was spoon feeding his pumpkins with a day?  It was double what I was doing and I was wondering if I was doing too much.  His results?  Two pumpkins over one ton each.

So the other piece of what I'm going to be doing differently in 2022 is I'm going to start fertilizing earlier.  If you've ever gone on a patch tour and saw the other guy's pumpkins and then went home and tried dumping a bunch of fertilizer on the plant in the hopes for better growth, you'll typically find it doesn't work.  Why?  Number of reasons, but one of the bigger is that the plant hasn't been primed to need it, so it is probably throwing the soil out of balance some, rather than helping.

If you've ever seen a plant mid-season that has a real nice pumpkin on it, often times the plant just seems meatier.  Like everything on the plant just wants to grow.  The stump is bigger, the vines are thicker and the leaves are often larger than normal.  Those pieces don't grow bigger unless their are the nutrients available to grow them.  It is a fine balance to keep things in the Goldielocks zone, but when it is dialed in the plant starts building bigger pipes to grow the pumpkin and the plant is primed to take on more fertilization and use it.  If you get started too late, that demand isn't created and extra fertilizers can throw things out of balance.

So in 2022 I'm going to be using the McConkie "put the petal to the floor method."  Which was the piece that I've always struggled with in the past.  In this method you spoon feed the plant with a fair amount of fertilizer until you start seeing things getting off (leaves start bloating, dark green color, maybe some brittleness in the vines) and then you start backing off significantly.  So basically you watch the plant closely and let it tell you when it has got to the point that it has a little too much and by doing so you get that plant in top gear and then brake a little before you hit the wall.  Doing it this way means the plant shouldn't lack for anything and you get that piping built for a giant.

So the following is what the 2022 Giant Pumpkin Fertilizer program looks like now.  Everything has a purpose for when it is applied.  Nutrients are given on specific weeks to address specific needs that the plant has at different times in the season in this fertilizer program.  How much is applied is somewhat dependent on your soil type, your soil report and what the plant is telling you:

Updated 3/25/22

May (focusing on the roots):
Week 1RAW 7-4-5, RAW Phosphorous (mono ammonium), B-vitamin, liquid seaweed/kelp, compost tea (alfalfa), myco, microbes & Azos, yucca, humic acid
Week 2RAW 7-4-5, 20-10-20, compost tea (alfalfa), fulvic acid, yucca, silica, seaweed, humic acid, foliar multi-mineral, myco
Week 3RAW 7-4-5, 20-10-20, compost tea (alfalfa), humic acid, yucca, fish, Azos, enzymes, amino acids, iron, myco
Week 4ammonium sulfate, 20-10-20, RAW 7-4-5, Omina, silica, fulvic acid, Azos, seaweed, humic acid, calmag, microbes, myco

June (focus on vine growing):
Week 520-20-20, enzymes, humic acid, RAW 7-4-5, azos, ammonium sulfate, calmag, aminos, myco
Week 6RAW 7-4-5, 20-20-20, fulvic acid, microbes, ammonium sulfate, potassium, azos, myco
Week 7(pollination) 20-20-20, seaweed, humic acid, RAW 3-12-12, Omina, iron, azos, ammonium sulfate, foliar multi-mineral, myco
Week 8gypsum, aminos, TKO, humic acid, yucca, azos, potassium, ammonium sulfate, microbes, myco

July (focus on transitioning from vine growth to fruit):
Week 9enzymes, potassium, magnesium, RAW 3-12-12, fulvic acid, seaweed, ammonium sulfate, azos, myco
Week 10gypsum, aminos, ammonium sulfate, potassium, humic acid, compost tea, potassium, RAW 3-12-12, zinc, magnesium, manganese, boron, copper, microbes, myco
Week 11(pumpkin gearing up), TKO, potassium, magnesium, humic acid, B-vitamins, calmag, Omina, seaweed, RAW 3-12-12, myco
Week 12ammonium sulfate, RAW 3-12-12, cane molasses, humic acid, potassium, magnesium, calmag, iron, humic acid, microbes, myco, azos

August (focus on the fruit)
Week 13TKO, ammonium sulfate, potassium, magnesium, RAW 3-12-12, foliar silica, microbes, seaweed, humic acid, myco, azos
Week 14ammonium sulfate, potassium, magnesium, RAW 3-12-12, Azos, humic acid, calmag, B-vitamins, Omina, foliar multi-mineral
Week 15ammonium sulfate, potassium, magnesium, RAW 3-12-12, foliar silica, humic acid, microbes
Week 16TKO, ammonium sulfate, potassium, magnesium, cane molasses, fulvic acid, seaweed

September (finish the race)
Week 17potassium, magnesium, humic acid, foliar seaweed, B-vitamins, RAW 3-12-12, compost tea, Omina
Week 18TKO, potassium, nitrogen, foliar seaweed, foliar humic acid, cane molasses, silica
Week 19foliar potassium, nitrogen, foliar seaweed, humic acid
Week 20foliar potassium, foliar seaweed, humic acid

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