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Dickinson pumpkins losing fruit

Dear all,

I planted 14 Dickinson pumpkin in January and 10 of them germinated and have grown into beautiful wines. Fruit are forming but soon they turn yellow and fall off. I had one pumpkin forming but eventually it also has turned yellow.
Anyone have ideas why this is happening? I have applied organic fertiliser/compost around the base every 4 weeks or so.

I don’t see any bugs around except for one type (see photos) - but it doesn’t make any visible harm to the plants.

I am in Maehongson, North Thailand.

Thanks in advance.





Hi Mark, it could be the pumpkins are not getting pollinated. Also, have you cut one open to check for melon fly larvae? (do you have melon flies in Thailand?). The one pictured that is larger, firm and yellow looks normal. They turn that color as they ripen. Maybe @Patrick_Trail or @Holly_Sobetski can provide more information.

Hey Mark! We grow a lot of Cucurbita moschata here in Florida and aborted ovaries and fruit occur here as well.

The female flower has an enlarged ovary underneath it, so it may look like a fruit forming but if the flower isn’t pollinated properly, then the ovary will shrivel up and die. But once a female flower is pollinated and fertilized, it should start to enlarge, the flower on the end wilts and dies, and the pumpkin grows and is green (2nd photo). As it matures, it will go from a green to a golden tan color as it approaches maturity. The pumpkin in the 3rd photo is nearly mature and is beautiful! I usually harvest maybe two weeks after this stage.

If the ovaries are turning yellow and falling off, it could be a lack of the presence of pollinators (bees). You can try hand pollinating in the morning by taking a mature male flower and painting the pollen from the anther onto the stigma in the mature female flower (the one with the ovary underneath the flower). Sometimes we have trouble with caterpillars in the flowers, but they are evident from the holes in the petals, oozy sap coming from the ovary, and the frass that they leave behind. Maybe what happened in photo 1?

And still other times, the ovary or fruit will shrivel up and die even if the flower was pollinated. This may be due to a number of factors: the vine perhaps can’t support that many fruit (1-3 fruit per plant is a good target) so some die and fall off, the plant isn’t getting enough phosphorus, or because of something else that I haven’t learned about yet! I also find that the male and female flower ratio is constantly changing and is never balanced. If there aren’t enough male flowers right now, there will be more later.

Anyway, that’s my two cents! Let us know how it goes and what you learn.

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I agree with Holly, it might be worth trying your hand at hand pollination. See this resource on hand-pollination for more details. You won’t need to do all of the taping if you just want fruit, that’s only for seed saving and purity of seed.

It is also possible that during these very hot (40oC) and dry days the plants are being stressed and aborting fruit. Try to keep soil from drying out too much and that might help.

Patrick

Here’s the seed I planted:

Hi Mark, yes, that is the same species (Cucurbita moschata) as our tropical pumpkins, Seminole pumpkins, butternut squash and calabaza. I see that the Dickinson variety is reported to get fairly large but that would depend on the growing conditions.

Thanks for the reply, Bob. I did try to open the one fruit that was not dropped. It was mostly eaten by bugs as you can see :neutral_face: Not sure what bug.

Thank you, Holly!

I have tried to hand pollinate one morning. Not sure if I did it correct or if the male flower was shedding pollen.

I have more much female flowers and had to search to find two male one.

I will also try to water more and add a bit more organic fertiliser if it’s a nutrition problem.

Could it be too hot? It’s around 40+ C (104 F) degrees here now.

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Thank you! I will water more. It is super hot and dry here now. I think yet another 6 weeks before any chance of rain.