Pumpkin Cultivar Trial Results

We evaluated twenty-one pumpkin cultivars in 2016 and 2017.
Pumpkin Cultivar Trial Results - Articles

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Photo: Bill Lamont, Penn State

The evaluation took place at 3 farms: in southwestern Pennsylvania: at Yarnick’s Farm, LLC in Indiana; in central Pennsylvania at Pennsylvania State University’s Russell E. Larson Research Center in Pennsylvania Furnace; and in southeastern Pennsylvania State University’s Southeast Research and Extension Center in Manheim.

Table 1. Cultivar, Seed Source, and Maturity of Cultivars included in the evaluation.

CultivarSourceMaturityz
AresHarris Moran Seed Co., Davis, CA115
Bayhorse GoldRupp Seeds Inc., Wauseon, OH100
CamaroHollar Seeds, Rocky Ford, CO110
CargoJohnny’s Selected Seeds, Winslow, ME100
ChallengerHollar Seeds, Rocky Ford, CO100
Eagle City GoldRupp Seeds Inc., Wauseon, OH100
EarlipakSakata Seed America, Morgan Hill, CA95
Early KingAbbot & Cobb90
GladiatorHarris Moran Seed Co., Davis, CA115
Gold ChallengeRupp Seeds Inc., Wauseon, OH105
HannibalHybrid Seed Co., Feastervillle, PA105
Honky TonkSakata Seed America, Morgan Hill, CA105
KratosHarris Moran Seed Co., Davis, CA100
Magic LanternHarris Moran Seed Co., Davis, CA110
Magic WandHarris Moran Seed Co., Davis, CA115
Mrs. WrinklesSakata Seed America, Morgan Hill, CA100
Orange RaveRupp Seeds Inc., Wauseon, OH105
RheaHarris Moran Seed Co., Davis, CA105
Solid GoldRupp Seeds Inc., Wauseon, OH100
SpartanSakata Seed America, Morgan Hill, CA100
ZeusHarris Moran Seed Co., Davis, CA110

zBased on seed catalogs.

Based on conversations with growers, the standard used was ‘Gladiator’. Photo: Bill Lamont. Scroll to the end of this article to see pictures of each cultivar included in the trial.

At all sites, pumpkins were direct seeded. At the southwestern site, rows were spaced 6 feet apart with 3 feet between plants and at the central and southeastern site row were spaced 8 feet apart with 4 feet between plants in a row. Four plots of each cultivar were planted with each plot consisting of 6 plants. Data were collected from all 6 plants.

Pests were managed following recommendations in the 2016 Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendation guide.

At the southwestern site, a raised bed system without plastic mulch was used. Photo: Bob Pollock, Penn State

When beds were pulled, 600 lb/acre of 13-13-13 was applied through the bedmaker. Direct seeding occurred on June 25, 2016 and June 20, 2017. A single line of drip tape was installed over each bed to use only in the event the crop needed to be saved as there was not a pond at this site. In 2016, irrigation was used to get the crop started.

Pumpkins were harvested on October 8, 2016 and October 10 and 13, 2017 and were categorized as fully orange, turning orange, mature green and unmarketable. Quality of the handles was also determined at this site.

At the central site, a plasticulture system using a single line of drip tape (T-Tape model 508-12-450; John Deere, Moline, IL) placed on the center of the bed and black embossed plastic mulch (Sigma Plastic Groups, Allentown, PA) was used. Photo: Tom Butzler, Penn State

Potash and phosphate were applied based on soil test recommendations. Additionally, 50 lb/acre nitrogen was broadcast preplant on 23 May 2016 and 12 June 2017. An additional 25 lb/acre nitrogen was fertigated throughout the growing season. Beds were pulled and plastic and drip tape were installed on June 10, 2016 and June 12, 2017. Plants were provided with 1-1.5 acre-inches of water each week through drip irrigation. Herbicide was also applied on June 10, 2016 and June 13, 2017. Planting holes were punched and direct seeding occurred on June 13, 2016 and June 22, 2017.

Pumpkins were harvested on September 16 and 20, 2016 and cut on September 29 and October 5, 2017. Pumpkins were counted and weighed in these categories: fully orange, turning orange or mature green (full sized and dark green) and unmarketable.

At the southeastern site pumpkin seed were direct seeded in a no-till system into rye residue on June 7, 2016 and June 8, 2017. Photos: Tim Elkner, Penn State

A single line of drip tape tape (T-Tape model 508-12-450; John Deere, Moline, IL) was placed in the center of each row. Plants were provided with 1-1.5 acre-inches of water each week through drip irrigation. Based on soil test recommendations, phosphate and potash were not applied. Nitrogen was applied at a rate of 90 lb/acre with 50 lbs broadcast preplant and the remainder fertigated throughout the growing season.

Pumpkins were harvested on October 14, 2016 and October 11 and 16, 2017. At this site harvest occurred when all fruit was fully orange (no fruit was turning orange). Quality of the handles (stems) was rated at this site using a 1-5 scale with 5 indicating the highest quality.

Data were pooled by site and year and analyzed using the GLIMMIX. Means were separated at the 5% level using the slice option to perform Tukey’s multiple comparison test.

Results

Significant interactions between year, site, and cultivar were observed for many variables as indicated in the table below.

Table 2. Statistical interactions between site, year, and cultivar for 21 cultivars of pumpkin grown in 2016-17 in three locations in Pennsylvania. ‘Yes’ indicates interaction significant at the 5% level, ‘No’ indicates the interaction was not significant.

2016–17Marketable yield (lb)Marketable yield (no.)Unmarketable yield (no.)
Site x yearYesYesYes
Site x cultivarYesYesNo
Year x cultivarNoYesYes
Site x year x cultivarNoYesNo

Southwestern Site

Yields in 2016 were lower at this site because of stress early in the growing season. Planting was delayed due to very dry conditions and then dry weather post emergence through the 3rd week of July resulted in slow and uneven germination and growth. In 2017, extended wet weather created favorable conditions for phytophthora blight that limited yields.

  • Mean weight of marketable pumpkins for all cultivars was not different from ‘Gladiator’ or each other in both years (see table below).
  • Mean number of marketable pumpkins for all cultivars was not different from ‘Gladiator’ or each other in both years.
  • Mean number of unmarketable pumpkins for all cultivars was not different from ‘Gladiator’ or each other in both years (see table below).

Central Site

‘Challenger’ produced a higher mean weight of marketable pumpkins than ‘Gladiator’ in 2016. ‘Early King’ and ‘Camaro’ produced a higher mean weight than ‘Gladiator’ in 2017. Marketable pumpkin weight was not different for any other cultivar in either year compared to ‘Gladiator’. In 2016, ‘Challenger’ produced higher mean pumpkin weight than ‘Eagle City Gold’, ‘Gold Challenger’, ‘Gladiator’, ‘Mrs. Wrinkles’, and ‘Zeus’. No other differences between cultivars occurred. In 2017, ‘Early King’ produced higher mean pumpkin weight than ‘Gold Challenger’, ‘Hannibal’, ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Zeus’. Additionally, ‘Camaro’ produced higher mean pumpkin weight than ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Zeus’. No other differences between cultivars occurred.

  • Mean number of marketable pumpkins from ‘Gladiator’ plants was not different from any other cultivar in both years. In 2016, ‘Honky Tonk’ produced more marketable pumpkins than ‘Gold Challenger’ and ‘Cargo’. Additionally, ‘Camaro’ outperformed ‘Cargo’ in marketable number of fruit in 2017.
  • Mean number of unmarketable pumpkins for all cultivars was not different from ‘Gladiator’ in both years.

Southeastern Site

Mean weight of marketable pumpkins for all cultivars was not different from ‘Gladiator’ in both years. In 2016, ‘Challenger’ marketable weight was higher than ‘Eagle City Gold’. In 2017, ‘Kratos’ marketable weight was higher than ‘Hannibal’ and ‘Gold Challenger’. All other cultivars were not different from each other.

  • In 2016, the mean number of marketable pumpkins was not different from any cultivar. In 2017, mean number was not different from ‘Gladiator’ for any cultivar. In this year, ‘Kratos’ yielded more pumpkins than ‘Gold Challenger’. All other cultivars were not different from each other.
  • Mean number of unmarketable pumpkins for all cultivars was not different from ‘Gladiator’ or each other in both years.

Tables 3a and 3b. Marketable yield of 21 pumpkin cultivars grown at three locations in Pennsylvania in 2016-17.

3a. Marketable Yield (Pound/6 Plants)

CultivarSouthwestern SiteCentral SiteSoutheastern Site
SW-2016SW-2017C-2016C-2017SE-2016SE-2017
Ares34 az27 a294 ab285 abc192 ab257 ab
Bayhorse Gold58 a57 a223 ab279 abc164 ab240 ab
Camaro41 a77 a310 ab354 ab152 ab236 ab
Cargo31 a39 a236 ab230 abc196 ab208 ab
Challenger54 a95 a355 a323 abc286 a247 ab
Eagle City Gold68 a47 a207 b318 abc131 b269 ab
Earlipak23 a15 a234 ab252 abc174 ab229 ab
Early King49 a7 a323 ab366 a247 ab244 ab
Gladiator27 a4 a201 b197 c152 ab233 ab
Gold Challenger33 a28 a210 b221 bc163 ab139 b
Hannibal51 a69 a216 ab200 bc165 ab175 b
Honky Tonk43 a24 a248 ab250 abc169 ab209 ab
Kratos58 a48 a277 ab310 abc196 ab326 a
Magic Lantern59 a11 a224 ab282 abc167 ab182 ab
Magic Wand62 a11 a232 ab235 abc169 ab218 ab
Mrs. Wrinkles83 a0 a183 b267 abc187 ab191 ab
Orange Rave71 a25 a255 ab268 abc173 ab224 ab
Rhea62 a30 a250 ab261 abc145 ab259 ab
Solid Gold56 a43 a254 ab275 abc193 ab230 ab
Spartan33 a27 a225 ab286 abc219 ab225 ab
Zeus26 a14 a165 b193 c171 ab205 ab

zValues are the mean of 4 replications; data were analyzed using GLIMMIX and means were separated at the 5% level using the slice option to perform Tukey’s multiple comparison test; values followed by different letters within a column are significantly different.

3b. Marketable Yield (Number/6 Plants)

CultivarSouthwestern SiteCentral SiteSoutheastern Site
SW-2016SW-2017C-2016C-2017SE-2016SE-2017
Ares1.5 a1.3 a16.3 ab11.0 ab12.0 a11 ab
Bayhorse Gold2.8 a2.8 a13.3 ab13.0 ab12.5 a11.3 ab
Camaro1.8 a5.3 a13.3 ab16.9 a10.8 a10.0 ab
Cargo1.8 a1.8 a11.8 b8.0 b11.0 a8.0 ab
Challenger1.5 a2.8 a17.0 ab10.5 ab15.5 a9.3 ab
Eagle City Gold3.5 a2.5 a13.5 ab15.3 ab10.5 a12.0 ab
Earlipak1.0 a1.0 a13.3 ab9.7 ab10.3 a8.5 ab
Early King1.8 a0.5 a15.0 ab13.0 ab14.8 a9.0 ab
Gladiator1.0 a0.3 a15 ab9.5 ab11.8 a12.0 ab
Gold Challenger1.5 a2.0 a11.5 b11.0 ab10.0 a6.8 b
Hannibal2.0 a3.3 a13 ab10.5 ab10.3 a8.3 ab
Honky Tonk2.3 a1.5 a20.0 a12.3 ab13.8 a11.3 ab
Kratos1.8 a2.5 a17.0 ab12.8 ab12.8 a14.8 a
Magic Lantern2.5 a1.0 a18 ab14.5 ab15.3 a9.8 ab
Magic Wand2.5 a0.8 a18.0 ab11.5 ab13.0 a11.5 ab
Mrs. Wrinkles5.3 a0.0 a12.5 ab12.3 ab14.5 a10.0 ab
Orange Rave3.8 a1.5 a17.5 ab12.8 ab12.0 a12 ab
Rhea2.0 a1.5 a17.3 ab9.8 ab10.0 a11.5 ab
Solid Gold2.3 a2.5 a13.0 ab10.8 ab10.8 a9.5 ab
Spartan1.5 a1.5 a14.8 ab10.5 ab15.0 a10.5 ab
Zeus1.0 a0.8 a13 ab11.0 ab14.8 a10.8 ab

Table 4. Unmarketable yield of 21 cultivars of pumpkins grown in three locations in Pennsylvania in 2016-17.

Unmarketable Yield (Number/6 plants)

CultivarSouthwestern SiteCentral SiteSoutheastern Site
SW-2016SW-2017C-2016C-2017SE-2016SE-2017
Ares0z1.500.30.81.8
Bayhorse Gold01.50.5021.8
Camaro0.32003.31.8
Cargo02.3000.82.3
Challenger02.2500.32.51.8
Eagle City Gold02.5001.31
Earlipak03.30012
Early King0.320.30.311.5
Gold Challenger01.30.501.82.8
Gladiator02.50.50.312.3
Hannibal02.300.32.83.3
Honky Tonk03.300.30.52.3
Kratos0.32000.33.3
Magic Lantern03.80.30.50.81.5
Magic Wand03.30013.5
Mrs. Wrinkles0.30.510.51.32
Orange Rave010.3021.3
Rhea0.31.50.50.312.8
Solid Gold0.31.80.30.51.31.8
Spartan0100.30.82.8
Zeus03.80.30.81.52

zValues are the mean of 4 replications; data were analyzed using GLIMMIX and means were separated at the 5% level using the slice option to perform Tukey’s multiple comparison test; values followed by different letters within a column are significantly different.

Based on yield, no cultivars evaluated were different from the standard ‘Gladiator’. Growers should consider quality including shade of orange, shape, and degree of ribbing when selecting cultivars. Many cultivars can be selected to meet varying consumer preference for these quality factors without sacrificing yield.

Differences in degree of ribbing between ‘Gladiator’ (on the left) and ‘Mrs. Wrinkles’. Photo: Tom Butzler, Penn State

Differences in shape between ‘Gladiator’ (on the left) and ‘Ares’. Photo: Tom Butzler, Penn State

Differences in shade of orange. Dark orange (on the left), orange (in the middle), and light orange (on the right) pumpkins. Photo: Tom Butzler, Penn State

Pictures of each cultivar next to ‘Gladiator’ (‘Gladiator’ is on the left in each picture; Photos: Tom Butzler, Penn State) taken in 2017 at the central site. The photo of ‘Magic Lantern’ was taken in 2017 at the southeastern site (Photo: Tim Elkner, Penn State).

Authors