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Giant pumpkin project update June 27

Week of June 20

 A fenced area with the ground covered with black landscape fabric and two leafy green plants growing in the middle and red and white water hoses lying between them, and plants growing along the fence
These two pumpkins will be grown for the MN State Fair. If all goes well, this landscape fabric will be covered with pumpkin vines soon.

We have been watering daily as needed depending on rainfall, which hasn’t been much. They have received one nitrogen fertilization and we wrapped their stems loosely in tin foil to protect them from squash vine borers (SVB).

Even the hubbard squash look great — they have huge leaves and they are setting fruit. They are supposed to be the trap crop for the SVB. Noah found one adult vine borer, but no damage to any plants so far.

The pumpkins have been growing larger by the day; so much that 3 of the 6 split their main stems from what we think was growing too fast too quickly. Annie and I decided it was time to select the two plants to make the cut.

We chose two that are spaced far apart so they would have plenty of room to grow the massive foliage and vines needed to support a giant pumpkin. We were a little sad to send the other four to the compost pile. They made a valiant effort but didn’t make the cut.

 A woman kneeling, wearing a gray shirt and gardening gloves, and holding a large green leafy plant over a planting area covered in black landscape fabric with a fence in the background
Annie Klodd pulling one of the pumpkins that did not make the cut. The stem had split from rapid growth during the recently steamy weather.

We also removed the foil from the main stems. Annie decided they needed to be exposed to the sun so they could harden off and provide stronger support for the growing vine. In lieu of the foil barrier, she chose to spray the two pumpkins with carbaryl to protect them from vine borers for the remaining week or so of vine borer adult activity.

We're going to the fair!

We've been allowed to enter a pumpkin in the Minnesota State Fair competition! Being educators, we were not sure we would be eligible.

Julie Weisenhorn's cousin, Steve Eckman, offered his flatbed truck to transport the pumpkin to the Fairgrounds. Giant pumpkins are grown on pallets, then lifted onto a truck with a forklift where the fruit is strapped securely for its ride. (That ride will be a nail-biter.) See you at the Fair!

Giant Pumpkin team: Julie Weisenhorn, Extension horticulture educator; Annie Klodd, Extension fruit educator; Noah Burley, Extension horticulture intern

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