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OSC Activity D.7

Development of a weed management system for pumpkins grown for seed in Ontario

Activity Researchers

Name Affiliation
Robert Nurse, Lead Researcher
robert.nurse@agr.gc.ca

Research Scientist
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre
2585 County Rd 20
Harrow, ON N0R 1G0

Darren Robinson, Collaborator
drobinso@ridgetownc.uoguelph.ca
Assistant Professor
Department of Plant Agriculture
University of Guelph
Ridgetown Campus
120 Main St. E
Ridgetown, ON N0P 2C0
Elaine Roddy, Collaborator
elaine.roddy@ontario.ca

Vegetable Crops Specialist
OMAFRA
Ridgetown Resource Centre
Main St E.
PO Box 400
Ridgetown, ON N0P 2C0

Objectives

  1. Develop a production system for organic pumpkins in Ontario.
  2. Determine the highest yielding variety of pumpkin in terms of seeds.
  3. Determine the most sustainable weed management system in terms of crop rotation, percent weed control, soil nutrient status, and economics.
  4. Develop a crop rolling system for living mulches.
  5. Develop a network of growers in Ontario to grow organic pumpkins for seed. 

Activity Summary

Pumpkin seeds are a common snack food and can also be utilized for their oils which are high in linoleic, oleic, and palmitic fatty acids.  A need for organic pumpkin seed production exists in Canada.  For example, Nature’s Path is the largest producer of organic granola bars, and most of their best selling products contain pumpkin seeds.  Currently, this industry imports 100% of their pumpkin seeds from China.  The development of a Canadian sector would reduce the requirement for import, and create the potential for growers to produce a new high value crop.  In order for this sector to be successful a sustainable production system must be developed that maximizes soil fertility, weed management and seed yield and quality.

The goal of this research will be to develop a production system that will be suitable for vegetable growers in Ontario to grow pumpkins for the organic seed market.  Of most importance will be the development of a suitable crop rotation that builds soil health and fertility, the selection of a high quality, high yielding seed variety, and the development of sustainable organic weed management practices.

The weed management aspects of the research will focus on developing a reduced or no-till production system.  Unlike other vegetable crops, inter-row cultivation is not an effective season long solution for weed control.  Once cucurbit crops begin to vine, and invade the row middles it becomes almost impossible to inter-row cultivate.  Cover crops and living mulch systems will be investigated as an alternative to cultivation.  Additionally, crop rolling technology will be investigated to determine if it will be a feasible way for growers to manage the mulches within their pumpkin crop.  By rolling the cover crops, a mat of plant material will provide soil coverage.  This will benefit the system in two ways, first by providing a barrier to weed emergence, and second by providing a ground cover separating the fruit from the soil reducing soil contamination at harvest. 

Specifically, this research will focus on the following objectives:

  1. Develop a production system for organic pumpkins in Ontario.
  2. Determine the highest yielding variety of pumpkin in terms of seeds.
  3. Determine the most sustainable weed management system in terms of crop rotation, percent weed control, soil nutrient status, and economics.
  4. Develop a crop rolling system for living mulches.
  5. Develop a network of growers in Ontario to grow organic pumpkins for seed. 

Results

Background and Supporting Documents