Great American Media Services

2022 Midwest Vegetable Guide

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 121 of 291

Cucurbit Crops – Horticulture 122 Midwest Veg Guide 2022 Fertilizing pH: Maintain a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8, or 6.3 to 6.8 for melons. If your soil test indicates less than 70 ppm magnesium, use dolomitic limestone, or apply 50 pounds per acre Mg broadcast preplant incorporated. Cucumbers, Melons, Pumpkins, Squash, and Watermelon for Fresh Market: Before planting, apply 40 to 60 pounds N per acre, 0 to 150 pounds P 2 O 5 per acre, and 0 to 200 pounds K 2 O per acre based on soil test results and recommendations from your state. In plasticulture systems, preplant fertilizer may be applied just over the row prior to bedding and/or laying plastic. For transplants, a starter solution at a rate of 1 cup (8 ounces) per plant is recommended. If the transplant flat receives a heavy fertilizer feeding just prior to setting, the starter solution can be eliminated. Sidedress with 30-45 pounds N per acre when the vines begin to run. If heavy rains occur in June, apply an additional 30 pounds N per acre at fruit set. Sidedressing may be replaced by supplying N through a drip irrigation system at1/2 to 1 pound N per acre daily, or 3 to 6 pounds N weekly through the trickle system if additional N is needed until fruit are about 2 inches in diameter. For direct seeded crops on sandy soils, the preplant N application can be replaced by an early sidedressing of 40 pounds N per acre when the plants show the first true leaves. Apply the second sidedressing of 45 pounds N per acre at onset of rapid vining. Reduce the total amount of fertilizer N applied by the value of N credits from green manures, legume crops grown in the previous year, compost and animal manures, and soils with more than 3 percent organic matter. The total amount of N from fertilizer (including starter) and other credits should be 80 to 100 pounds per acre. Cucumbers for processing: Before planting, apply 40 pounds N per acre, 0 to 150 pounds P 2 O 5 per acre, and 0 to 200 pounds K 2 O per acre based on soil test results and recommendations from your state. Sidedress with another 40 pounds N per acre. Harvesting Cucumbers: Unless a once-over mechanical harvester is used, cucumbers should be harvested at two- to four- day intervals to prevent losses from oversized and over-mature fruit. Desired harvest sizes range from 5 to 8 inches long and 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter for fresh market slicing types. If growing for processors, be sure to understand the specific terms of their contracts at the beginning of the growing season. Prices received are related to the quantity of fruit within specific size ranges as established by either USDA guidelines or by the processor. Melons: During ripening, eastern type cantaloupes develop an identifiable abscission zone and form tan-colored netting. Harvest index is at three-quarter or full-slip stage. The fruit do not keep well in the field when ripe. Harvest every one to three days. Cantaloupe varieties with long shelf life (such as Infinite Gold and Durawest) were tested in the Midwest. Long shelf life varieties have delayed abscission compared to normal eastern type cantaloupes. They either stay in green or have a continuous color change. Color and abscission are not used as harvest indices for long shelf life varieties. Indicators of the optimal ripeness are when there are a few vertical cracks on the peduncle but the fruit has not slipped yet. Long shelf life varieties can hold longer in the field, allowing growers to harvest two or three times. Honeydew, crenshaw and canary melons do not develop netting on the skin and do not form abscission zones during ripening. Color is the primary harvest index, and they must be cut from the vine. Pumpkins and Winter Squash: For pumpkins and most winter squash it is desirable to maintain green plants as long as possible, to allow fruit to mature on the vine. Full fruit maturity typically occurs about 55 days after fruit set; this may be two or more weeks after the rind has turned to its mature color and hardened. Pumpkins and winter squash harvested before full maturity will not keep as long and have lower eating quality. Mature fruits can be windrowed in full sun without worrying about sunburn and collected over a week or more. Acorn squash should be picked and packed close to sale. Though they are considered a winter squash, they are an immature fruit, and do not respond well to field curing. They lose moisture in storage and become more susceptible to post-harvest rots. For ornamental pumpkins, if the leaves are dying and the fruit is over 50% colored, it may be best to harvest. Fruit harvested earlier than 50% color eventually turn, but they do not become hard, mature fruit and they rot more easily. Getting immature fruit out of the field and into a dry, somewhat shady area will allow for curing without as much risk for sunburn, insect infestation and possibly some fruit rots. Cut them from the vines and clean off as much soil as you can. If you suspect fruit rots may become an issue it would be best to place them in a sanitizing dip if you can. This will not guarantee the fruit will not rot since some fruit rots can be systemic. Avoid harvesting in wet areas likely to be infested with phytophthora, or keep that fruit separate from fruit harvested from other areas of the field. This will minimize fruit to fruit contamination. Stack and package carefully to avoid stem breakage, and to prevent stems from puncturing other fruit. Summer Squash: Harvesting and packing summer squash is a delicate process to avoid scratching the soft, immature fruit.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Great American Media Services - 2022 Midwest Vegetable Guide