Louie’s Pumpkin Patch


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This paper was presented at The 7th EUCARPIA Meeting on Cucurbit Genetics & Breeding, "Cucurbitaceae 2000" at Ma'ale Ha Hamisha, Israel, March 19-23, 2000.



Where is Sweden?

The increase in production of Cucurbita (squash and pumpkins) over the past few years.


Louis Lehmann

Department of Plant Breeding Research, The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-268 31 Svalöv, Sweden.




          After watching and participating for 26 years in the cultivation of Cucurbita in Sweden, I have seen it becoming more and more popular. The advent of Halloween has become a time of celebrating with parties and of course with the use of Halloween pumpkins, decorative pumpkins and ornamentals. An earlier report was written (Lehmann, 1996) in Swedish. Cucurbita as a food has been gaining in popularity but at a slower rate. Seeds as a health food are also on the rise.

Key words: Cucurbita ficifolia, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita pepo, cultigen



          The use of pumpkins for Halloween, decorations and ornamentals has nearly doubled every year during the last few years. On the other hand, summer squash, winter squash and pumpkins as food has not increased at the same rate. Through imports, summer squash is available the year around while winter squash and pumpkins are available earlier in the fall. In order to see which lines are suitable for Sweden, I have been having field trials on my own and with cooperating farmers.


Materials & Methods

          Over the past several years, I have had about 300 varieties or lines of summer squash, winter squash and pumpkins in trials. The trials have been conducted on my own or with cooperating farmers. Seeds were obtained by purchase or were provided by public institutions, private companies, colleagues, and friends.

          In 1999 I had about 200 varieties or cultigens in trials. Seeds were sown directly in the field from the 17th to the 20th of May.  Spacings were one meter within the row with two meters between rows. No plastic or net-covers were used. Five seeds were sown per hill. The best two or three plants were saved. Weeding was done either by hand, cultivator and/or herbicides.

          A complete fertilizer with 300 kg of N per hectare was applied before sowing. A side dressing of about 40kg of N was made in the beginning of July.

          Summer squash productions began near the end of July. Farmers growing summer squash under plastic (agronet) began harvesting about one month earlier than in my trials. The harvest of winter squash and pumpkins began in the second week in September and ended in the middle of October. This harvest also began earlier in other parts of the country e.g. on the island of Öland. The first killing frost in our area came in the 3rd week of October.

          In order to show the public the possibilities of Cucurbita as a food and decoration, we have had several exhibits with demonstration of various dishes that can be prepared with winter squash and pumpkins. We usually advise which varieties are best for different dishes and how they are prepared.


Results & Discussion

          The summer of 1999 was quite warm and the latter part of June and the whole month of July were rather dry. In some areas in the country where cultivation is on light soils, there was a tendency for smaller fruit which of course lead to lower production. This also was a factor in the amount of powdery mildew. In general we do not spray with fungicides or pesticides. Most of the lines that were tested and considered tolerant to powdery mildew showed a slower development of the mildew. Usually the Halloween pumpkins along with a few bush type squash are the first to show powdery mildew. The development of powdery mildew in the C. maxima comes much later than the C. pepo. There were a couple of exceptions which were noticed in a couple of new lines in the trials. Of course the C. ficifolia showed the greatest tolerance to powdery mildew.

          In 1999, I conducted on my own or in cooperation with others interested in Cucurbita several demonstrations in the field and other exhibits along with selling. One can see that the interest has increased greatly during the past few year. This can also be seen in catalogues by the number of varieties of Cucurbita which are offered by the Swedish seed companies.

          The latest statistics from Sweden is from the year 1996 (Statistiska Central Byrån, 1997). These statistics only include farmers who belong to various cooperatives. Summer squash was given as 14 ha and pumpkins as 9 ha. These figures are much below the actual amount. I am a consultant to farmers who together were growing over 20 ha of pumpkins. There are many other farmers growing pumpkins with whom I have no contact. Even small gardeners have begun growing more squash and pumpkins. At this time, it would be very difficult to estimate the amount of area on which Cucurbita is grown.

          As I see it in the new millennium, the use of Cucurbita in Sweden will continue to increase both as ornamental, decorations and food. Where else can one find so many different shapes, sizes, colors and tastes in a fruit that can be eaten immature or mature and can be stored for a long time?  Cucurbita also provides food and nutrition from their leaves, flowers, and seeds.  It should also be mentioned its use as a rootstock for cucurbits.

          At the end of each season, an annual progress report is written for all to read (Lehmann, 1999).



          I thank The Swedish University of Agriculture Sciences, Svalöf Weibull (Hammenhög), Seminis (Petoseed, Asgrow), Novartis (Rogers), Takii, Sakata, Hong Nong, Hybrid Seed Company New Zealand Ltd., University of New Hampshire, various gene banks, friends, colleagues and cooperating farmers. I also thank all who have invited us to exhibit, lecture, sell, and give advice on the cultivation and use of Cucurbita.


Literature Cited

Lehmann, L. 1996. Cucurbita i Sverige och Världen. Squash och pumpor (sommar och vinter). Sveriges Utsädesföreningens Tidskrift [Swed. Seed Assoc. J.] 106:97-107.

Lehmann, L. 1999. 1999 Progress Report. www.pumpkinpatch.se.

Statistiska Central Byrån SCB. 1977. Statistics Sweden. Lantbrukets Struktur, Örebro, Sweden.


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