If you visited a pumpkin patch this fall with your family and found the pumpkins to be squeaky clean and the field not muddy, you likely visited a patch that utilizes a no-till system for pumpkin production. No-till farming continues to gain in popularity due to the many benefits it provides to the farming operation, including combatting soil erosion and managing moisture. In addition, no-till farming helps build organic matter in the soil, enhancing the soil’s microbial populations and thereby increasing the soil’s ability to hold nutrients.
A deterrent to the use of no-till farming for pumpkin producers has been weed pressure. There are only a few herbicides that growers can use, and many of them don’t provide season-long benefit. This is where cover crops come in to play. The addition of cover crops is a perfect complement to a no-till system for pumpkin growers. Crimping the cover crop to terminate it lays a thick mulch on the field to keep weed pressure down. It also prevents the crop from resting on the ground, thus keeping it clean. In addition to cover crops, many pumpkin producers will use a pre-emergence herbicide to further address weed issues.
I encourage anyone who is new to no-till pumpkin growing, or interested in beginning, to listen to the following podcast: https://www.ccsin.org/podcast/episode/224ba9ea/season-3-episode-5-no-till-pumpkins. You’ll hear Amanda and Jacob Baird, Nathan Johanning and Rod Johnson talk about the tips and tricks they have discovered along the way for successful u-pick no-till pumpkins. Amanda and Jacob are relatively new to no-till pumpkin production, and Amanda is a Purdue Extension Educator in Tipton County, Indiana. Nathan has been no-tilling pumpkins for more than a dozen years, and is a University of Illinoi Extension Educator. Rod is a 4th generation producer in Northwest Indiana, who added no-till pumpkins to the small operation a few years ago. They offer a list of valuable resources and first-hand experiences.
Look 👀 how CLEAN the pumpkin grown on no-till, cover cropped soil is compared with the pumpkin grown on soil that utilizes full tillage!
Sheila Schroeder CCSI Northern Program Manager