Basic Guide to Commercial Farming
Basic Guide to Commercial Farming with Pumpkins from Seedlings
Pumpkin is a popular commercial vegetable crop and propagated on large scale throughout the country, with the largest production in South Africa’s Western Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and the North West provinces. Propagation is from seeds and seedlings as available in bulk from reputable commercial nurseries. The vegetable has feeder roots growing close to the surface and lateral roots that can grow up to 1,5 m deep. The plant has a woody stem and has large leaves, as well as to vines that sprawl on the surface. It has characteristically yellow flowers.
Whether growing from seed or seedlings, it is imperative to consider pumpkin’s climate and soil requirements. The plant grows best in temperatures between 17 and 21 °C, though pumpkin can be propagated in areas experiencing temperatures up to a maximum of 28 °C. It is also important to guard against over-irrigation of the pumpkin plant, though the seedlings require regular watering. That said, it is essential to ensure a uniform moisture content of the soil throughout the growth period. When it comes to the seedlings, it is important to maintain a good moisture content in the upper 5 cm of soil. The upper soil should be dry later in the growth period while the lower part, down to 25 cm deep, should be well watered.
Sandy loam soil is ideal for propagation of pumpkin though well-drained loamy soil can also work well enough. The key is to ensure fertile growth media. Farming of the crop can be done on heavier soil, as long as it is fertile and provides adequate drainage. The plant prefers a soil pH of more than 6, but less than 7,5. Before transplanting the pumpkin seedlings to the growth field, conduct a soil analysis to determine the pH level and add the required fertiliser to achieve the desired pH level in the soil.
Transplant the pumpkin seedlings to the field with a spacing of 75-100 cm in the row and 200 cm between rows. With this spacing, it is possible to propagate up to 8000 plants on a hectare.
Harvest when the fruit’s skin is no longer shiny and it has hardened. Do not leave the fruit on the field for long after its foliage has died off, as prolonged exposure to the sun or wet soil can lead to fruit damage. However, do not harvest until the vines have died off completely. A dried stem means the time for harvesting has come and so is the dull and hardened fruit skin. Harvest the fruit with about 5-10 cm of the stem still on it, as this helps to prolong storage life. Careful handling of the fruit is important to prevent skin damage. Not only does skin damage reduce the market value of the fruit, but it also promotes rotting. Remove overly matured fruits from the harvested crop. Store the fruits in a dry storage area at a temperature of 19 °C to ensure proper hardening of the skin.
The yield potential is significantly increased when growing from seedlings, as the period on the field is reduced and the farmer receives plants of a uniform size. Farmers report on average 20 t/ha, though yields of more than 30 t/ha are possible.
Where to Buy Pumpkin Seedlings
Hishtil South Africa supplies pest-free and chemically treated pumpkin seedlings to farmers in South Africa. The plants are grown in climate-controlled greenhouses where they are protected against pests. The plants are delivered to farmers anywhere in South Africa. It is imperative to prepare the soil in advance when ordering the seedlings. The plants should be transplanted to the field immediately upon receipt. The company offers a wide range of seedlings for commercial crop farming in South Africa.
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