Growing pumpkins is a task that can be enjoyed by a family or it can be done as a commercial business. In order to grow pumpkins commercially, you need to follow a number of steps to ensure that you will not receive a citation, as well as ensuring that you are growing your pumpkins the appropriate way. In addition to having the right supplies and materials, growing pumpkins commercially requires some research.
Locate a market to sell your pumpkins. Unless you have your own selling location, you need to secure a place to sell your pumpkins.
Obtain a special, temporary operating permit and a business license if you plan on selling your pumpkins yourself. Contact your local city finance department to obtain the proper paperwork.
Choose a pumpkin variety that sells well in the area. Do your research to see whether you will be planting one or a mixture of varieties that include autumn gold, baby bear, sugar luxury, bushkin, big autumn and Howden field. Howden field has been the industry standard for the last 20 years.
Research the history of the field where you plan to grow the pumpkins. Ensure that other vine crops have not been grown on the land within the last two years and that the land receives at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. The land should have small hills or mounds; if it does not, you will need to create raised beds.
Test the soil to ensure that the pH level is between 6.0 and 6.5 and that the soil is well-draining. If you need to make the pH level more acidic, add lime to the soil. If the pH needs to be less acidic, add sulphur to the soil.
Dig 12 inches into the soil and 2 to 3 feet wide to prepare the soil for planting.
Fertilise the field with a time-release 5-10-10 fertiliser that is equal to 454 Kilogram per acre. If the soil test suggests more or less, follow the specific needs of the soil. Also make sure that you have a well-blended mixture of topsoil and compost in with the fertiliser.
Plant seeds in the spring once the temperature of the soil at 4 inches deep has reached between 15.6 and 18.3 degrees Celsius. Plant four seeds per foot within a row and make sure they are planted thin. For bushes and short vines, the rows need to be spaced 3 to 5 feet apart from one another and 2 to 3 feet apart from one another within each row. For large vines, small or large fruit, space the rows 6 to 8 feet apart and 3 to 5 feet within each row.
Apply an herbicide for pre-emergence immediately after the seeds have been planted. Make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging. This controls the amount of weeds that grow within the crop.
Water the plants using a drip irrigation system whenever the top of the soil is dry. Water until puddles form and turn off the water; repeat once the top layer of soil has dried again.
Mix in 20 to 30 pounds of nitrogen per acre and 60 to 100 pounds of potassium per acre at three and six weeks after the seeds have been planted. These fertilisers should be side-dressed 6 to 8 inches away from the plants on both sides of the row.
Supply at least one strong colony of bees per 2 acres of pumpkins. Bees are needed for pollination; without bees, the fruit has a poor shape and there is an excessive amount of blossoms that drop.
Harvest the pumpkins once the shells have hardened, being careful not to remove or damage the stem.
Dip in a 10 per cent Clorox solution by mixing 1 part Clorox with 9 parts water. This reduces the chance of post-harvesting rot if stored for a long time after harvesting.