FAQ on Big Giant Pumpkins, Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

FAQ on Growing Atlantic Giant

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You can search the FAQ page 2 for additional questions and anwsers.

Additional Pumpkin Pages

To Grow











Big is it?



Starting Early | How
do I enter a contest?
| Are there
any good books or other sources of information?
holds the world record?
| Recommend
for putting under the pumpkin once the fruit is growing?
| Where can I buy good seeds? | Which vine to choose? | Milk
feed your pumpkin.

Growing Tips

Watering | Mounding

Bug problems

Cucumber Beattles | Vine bores

Plant problems

Split stems/Stem stress | Yellow
| Deformed leaves | Enormous
seed leaves
| Plant stress | Leaf wilt | Light
green leaves are OK
| leaves wilting
on hot
| Hail storm


Heating cables | Underminated
|Growing tips | Seed | Pollination |PH levels | Starting
seeds indoors


Fertilizer program | Best times are to fertillize the pumpkins.


Weighing process | Weight
table (over the top method)
| Weight
of a pumpkin

Spring fever

For many, conditions in the old pumpkin patch
are not great yet. Don’t jump the gun as many beginners
do. If conditions are sloppy…..wait. They will get better
soon. It is about time for some to start seeds inside.
Some of us must wait a little longer. By starting a plant
3 or 4 weeks early, you are hurting yourself. Large plants
do not transplant well and get all stressed out. Determine
a good transplant date for your area and count back 7
to 10 days….. no more. That is the right seed starting
date. You will also hear of people who jump the gun .
What good does it do to have a 15 foot vine in a greenhouse
now? You will have a mature pumpkin at the beginning of
Sept. Atlantic Giants only grow about 130 days unless
you are in a cool climate. So wait until your garden warms
a little and when all the jack rabbits have quit growing
in August and September, you will pass them by!!!!!!!!!!!
P.S. If you are sitting with an enormous, pot bound seedling
and are wondering if you have made a big mistake, start
some more plants…….. I haven’t put a seed to the soil
yet and don’t plan to for a few more days. Good luck!!!!!!!

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Split stems/Stem stress

I grew a 300# plus pumpkin last year. When it
started to grow tall the stem began splitting from the
vine. I have had this trouble before. Should I cut the
root that grows from the stem or will that slow the growth
of the pumpkin or do you have another solution?

Stem stress is very common in pumpkins over
200 lbs. My 28 page growing manual goes in to it in depth
but basically most people cut off the tap root at the
pumpkin and a couple on either side of the pumpkin. This
allows the vine to raise off the ground as the pumpkin
grows tall. You can also have trouble with the shoulders
of the pumpkin growing so large that they push against
the vine and split it off that way too. When the pumpkin
is about the size of a basketball you can slowly move
the pumpkin perpendicular to the vine. This should be
done in small steps over a period of a week or you will
snap it off. There is no warning when the pumpkin is about
to crack off so go slow and don’t move it much each day.
Also if the fruit sets on the left side of the vine, you
can train the vine to the right which gives the shoulders
more room. Side vines can also wrap around the large pumpkin
and cause splits. Train the side vines away from the area
where the pumpkin will eventually be so there is room.

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I water deeply, the whole patch, every five
to six days from the last watering or 1″ of rain whichever
occurred last. I may, at times, give additional water
at root zone depending on weather conditions and growth
rate. I often boarder on disaster to push for optimum
growth but this must be learned by trial and error, hopefully
not too much error. George Brooks

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Could you suggest any chemicals for weed control on pumpkins…give up on hand control on
10 acres!

Concerning weed control on pumpkins. For
competition pumpkins, I believe mechanical weeding is
the only way to go . With black plastic you have trouble
with the tap roots rooting and there is the possibility
of decreased oxygen in the root zone. Chemical weed control
may kill some weeds but it will also make your Atlantic
Giants half sick. Use a swan neck hoe and skim them off
shallow when young. A weed that is one half inch tall
is much easier than a 6 inch weed. If you skim and don’t
disturb much soil underneath you will not bring up new
weed seeds. Weeds usually only germinate in the top two
inches of the soil. If you skim weeds twice you will have
little trouble, plus the plant shades out a lot. I am
also a commercial grower of regular pumpkins……they
are a different story. Many farmers use mechanical methods….
the same principles apply…let em come up and skim them
when they are young. You can use a 4 foot black plastic
mulch layer that can also lay drip tape underneath at
the same time. Plant in rows about 10 feet apart… plant
spacing every 2 feet. This keeps the young plants weed
free. Just before the vines crawl off the black plastic
you cultivate (shallow) between the rows with a harrow
or rototiller. I have a large tractor mounted rototiller
that works well. I put the tractor in third gear and move
fast. This clips off the weeds and doesn’t penetrate the
soil too much. By the way, as the vines crawl I sidedress
with Urea then till, so I incorporate the Urea and clip
weeds at the same time. The one problem with this method
is the plastic is a pain to remove. I have a mulch pulling
machine that works great on sandy soil. On heavy soil
it is tough going and mechanical or chemical weeding is
best. Chemical weeding…… I have a license for restricted
use chemicals. What I am about to say should not be followed
by home gardeners…. only properly trained and licensed
applicators. There are two types of weeds… broadleaf
and grasses some chemicals control one and not the other.
Prefar is registered for pumpkins in my state to control
grasses…. growers claim mixed results. Command controls
broadleaf weeds but WARNING!!!!!!!!!! over spray on a
windy day may turn the neighbors trees white. Not a good
idea. Command on wet Spring soil can also damage the pumpkin
seedlings. Premerge was a good one but it was taken off
the market. If you don’t have a good feeling about these
chemicals… you are right! There are not many or any
good choices out there. The stale seed bed method may
be the best. Plow, harrow and prepare your seed bed and
apply prefar for grass. Don’t disturb the soil and let
the weeds come up. When the weeds are about 2 inches tall
burn them off with Paraquat or round up. Remember!!!!!!!
Check with your State. What is allowed in my State may
not be in yours. I wish we had better weed control for
pumpkins but it isn’t out there now. pumkinguy@aol.com

The last time I checked, the only herbicides
cleared for pumpkins in Illinois were Command ( which
is excellent for grass control, but misses pigweeds) and
Amiben ( difficult to find, but does get the pigweeds).
Command must be used carefully because it turns many plants
white—including lawns and shrubs. I think there is a
new product coming out, but not yet available. I find
hand weeding 3 acres is too much—so I agree that on
10 you need help! Check with the local Cooperative Extension
Service office for recommendations in your area. Many
herbicides require a pesticide applicators license to
apply. Harold Reetz

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I currently have two pumpkin plants growing.
One has a green stem the other one has a yellow stem. Both have green leaves. Which is better & what
can I do about it?

Yellow Stem is a trait that often shows up
in Atlantic Giant Pumpkin plants. To my knowledge it is
nether good or bad. There is also a trait that Yellow
Spots show up on the leaves off an on. Pumpkinguy may
have some more info on this. George Brooks

GBpumkin is right on the money. I have seen
large pumpkins on both yellow and green vines. It is a
genetic trait like blue eyes or brown eyes. Some vines
are half yellow and half green. Some day you may see a
big flat vine about a foot wide…..they are bad………
we can talk more about them later. Squash vines are usually
green but pumpkins could go either way.

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I am considering using heating cables because of the relative low temperatures we are seeing
this spring in Wisconsin. I would like to know what type
of heater others have used in the past. I am assuming
that pipe heating tapes or gutter/roof heating cables
are used. The problem I see is thermal control. Pipe and
gutter heaters don’t seems to regulate in the right temperature
region. Has anyone come up with a better thermostat solution?
Does bypassing the thermostat and letting them run wide
open make sense? Help!

I use a (7 watt ?) soil heating cable with
a built in thermostat. Never bypass the Thermostat, they
work very well as manufactured. I’ve been using them for
10+ years, your seeds will jump right out of the ground
in 4 -6 days. They can be bought at most Garden or Farm
Stores. If you need more info let me know and I will see
if I can find the package. George Brooks

Out of curiosity, do those of you who use
heating cables to warm the soil around your pumpkins leave
them in all summer? Here in Central PA the ground is still
too wet to till. Without some really good shelter it will
be too cold to start outside until around June 1. Most
of us will start our plants inside around May 15 and put
them out around June1.

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sure what this mounding is that you speak of. Some people
grow pumpkins on raised beds. A raised bed would tend
to warm a little quicker in the Spring. If you tend to
have wet spring soil, a raised bed would help to keep
your pumpkins feet from getting too wet. My guess would
be that a large mound or raised bed would be a waist of
time. When I say large I mean 10 by 10 feet or larger.
By the time the roots get out that far it is June and
things are warming up anyway. One beauty of this sport
is that no two growers do things the same way. Everyone
has their own growing techniques and many work quite well.
One thing that all top growers share is that they all
follow good gardening techniques. Another type of mounding
or soil covering that many people do is to bury their
vines or tap roots. Putting soil on the vines helps hold
the vine down and encourages more tap rooting. If you
put soil on the vine where the leaf stem connects, you
will develope a second tap root out of the top of the
vine. You now have double tap roots………. how about
that!!!!! Double the tap roots…..that can’t hurt. Some
people plant pumpkins in hills… this doesn’t necessarily
mean that you plant the seeds on a hill. The term hill
also can mean a group. Some farmers still plant pumpkins
in hills (groups) in a square pattern. The benefit to
this is that they can cultivate in both directions. I
plant about 13 acres of pumpkins in rows so I only cultivate
in one direction. Lgourd hills his young plants for weed
control and it sounds like it works quite well. One of

my farmer buddies does a similar thing with his cultivator.
When the young plants are tall enough to take it, he cultivates
shallow and close to the plants and it is set up just
right to kick soil on the plant without covering it. By
the way…. on Atlantic Giants it doesn’t hurt to mound
up some soil around the base of your plant. Just before
the plant flops over and turns into a vine, it is very
vulnerable to sudden wind. It can snap the plant right
off, so hill some soil around the base of the plant for
extra support and don’t forget wind protection. GBpumpkin
would be a good one to talk to. He has a modified raised
bed and composting approach that seems to work well. There
are some top growers who mound or use raised beds but
it is by no means a universal or required growing technique….
to each his own or to each her own. Top 3 growers in the
world last year were women!!!! Come on guys get on the
stick. pumkinguy@aol.com

The main reason I have heard for mounding
is the improved drainage and increased soil temperatures.
Pumpkins are real heat lovers. The mounding method increases
the daytime soil temp in, say, the top 6-12 inches of
soil in comparison to outer areas. Also, the term “hill”
refers to the technique of planting more than one seedling
or seed in a small clump. The term applies to the planting
technique even if no mounding of the soil in the middle
is performed. My 2 cents, Dan Gardner (dang@athenet.net)

There has been some questions about mounds so I thought
a Photo might help. Attached you will find a Photo of
my Pumpkin Mounds. It is in a .jpg format that can be
viewed my all Photo Reader programs or imported in most
Word Processors with a JPEG Filter. If someone would like
it in a different format, let me know. George Brooks

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When growing under a cover, especially glass,
watch the moisture level. They can dry out fast even in
wet weather. Never fertilize with granular fertilizer,
they give off a gas that can burn the vegetation in an
enclosure. Use a liquid fertilizer, preferably a mild
one made from Fish or Seaweed. Pumpkin leaves will often
be lighter in color during cool weather giving the appearance
of lack of nutrients. Avoid fertilizing in cloudy weather,
it will encourage growth that may not be adapted to sunlight
and may burn when the sun comes out again. In areas effected
by this pest it is very active in early Spring. Corn Seed
Maggot, eats the seeds before they can germinate, making
it look like the seed was infertile. Treat seed hole with
an insecticide that is listed for maggots of any kind.
Beware of Ant activity around your young plants. This
could mean they are farming Strawberry Root Aphids on
your young plants. When you thin your Pumpkin Plants look
for greenish blue aphids. Treat with the same insecticide
you would use on ants. Good Luck George Brooks

I am not an advocate of early seed starting ……. best
to plant when growing conditions are right. However, at
this point in time you are running out of growing days.
If your weather is that bad, that late in the season you
should build a small greenhouse out of 2 by 4s and plastic
and provide ventilation……. temps over 90 to 95 are
N. G. IT is not a good idea to have big potbound seedlings
to transplant. I would start some right away and build
some protection for them and put them out next week. Plants
that have just come up, transplant much better than big
ones. The greenhouse doesn’t need to be big. 4 foot square
and 3 feet high is good enough. Try to get the plants
in the ground by mid May. The 2 extra weeks may help if
you have a big one that is still growing in mid Sept.
good luck pumkinguy@aol.com

Zach, Tough to say what is wrong with the
plants without seeing them. You should use sterilized
seed starting mix…that will eliminate any soil problems.
In a greenhouse you can suffer ethylene injury to plants
if you use a space heater that is not vented to the outside.
Another problem with wilted or weird 3rd leaves can come
from over fertilization in pots. Actually if you can get
a plant up quick and transplanted within a week or 10
days you should not put any fertilizer on them at all
until you transplant and then use a high phosphorous starter
fertilizer like a 15-30-15. The problem most people run
into with fertilizer burn is that the normal fertilizer
strengths that you use in the field is way, way to strong.
One or two tablespoons per gallon will zap them every
time. As the pot begins to dry out, the fertilizer is
still there but the water has decreased so soluble salt
levels increase. In a normal root hair, the level of salts
inside the root is higher than the level in the soil.
This enables the water in the soil to pass through the
cells of the root hair and into the plant. Where the problem
arises is when soluble salt levels are greater in the
soil than inside the root. The root shuts down and can’t
take up water. The plant (3rd leaf) wilts, turns dark
green and may have a crinkled look. Up quick and out within
10 days, no fertilizer until transplanted, and you will
have nice seedlings every time. If the plants are really
messed up, start some new ones right away. As far as the
proper temperature in the Spring…..most areas don’t
get warm until mid May so if you want to be an early bird
you must create a greenhouse environment to bring temps
up to an acceptable level. A typical Spring day in New
England may only be 50 degrees. For all practical purposes,
photosynthesis does not take place at 50 degrees and below
so the plant can’t make food for itself. As the temperature
increases to 60 or 65 things start slowly. At 70 to 80,
things are going along at a good clip. Temperatures of
90 and above are not good and is something that hurts
me where I grow. As the plants begin to wilt from the
heat, photosynthesis begins to shut down again. The metabolism
of the pumpkin plant is similar to our own body. Photorespiration
and respiration burn up some of the food in the plant.
For every 10 degree C increase in the temperature, the
rate of respiration DOUBLES! Very hot days and hot nights
are not the friend of the pumpkin plant. Too much photosynthate
is burned back up by the high rates of respiration. You
will notice on a map that virtually all of the giant pumpkins
have come from 42 degrees N latitude. Day length is slightly
longer at 43 or 44 degrees but just a matter of 5 or 10
minutes in July or August. Temperature is the main problem
down South. This is a matter of some debate but I would take a temp of 80 degrees in the day and 55 or 60 at night.
Unfortunately, I fall outside these temps quite often.
Howard Dill doesn’t like to plant big, old seedlings so
he plants a few, weights a few days, plants a few more,
etc. When conditions get bearable, he puts out the nice
young seedlings. He also uses a little greenhouse for
Nova Scotia weather can be rough in the Spring. I hope
some of this helps you. pumpkinguy@aol.com


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In analyzing the ungerminated seeds, I noticed a milk like substance from the seed.
I wonder what cause this and how I can increase my germination
rate? I do know it could have been a variety of things
such a heat, excessive watering, etc. I feel my failure
was due to watering and potting soil. The potting soil
had an incorrect ratio of peatmoss, perlite and vermiculite,
and I watered to often. I assume the potting mixture should
be almost dry before I water again. I have planted new

Duncan – You are not the only one with the
problem of expired seeds appearing milky inside, and my
germination rate is less than yours if its any comfort.
Rather than write you personally, I’ll share my thoughts
with the group, as I’d like the same answers. I just happened
to see Pumkinguy’s helpful response after I typed this,
but will send it anyway. As you know, Duncan, we have
a glassed in porch in which there is a portable heater
and a bench covered with sand. Under the sand is a heating
cable, and 12 inches above that a grow light. I have surrounded
the light and peat pots beneath it with a plastic camping
blanket with a reflective silver coating on the inside,
and covered in at both ends to reduce drafts and heat
loss. In this compact chamber I can maintain an air temperature
of between 70 and 85 degrees. I found that the pots dried
out awfully quickly inside, so I decided to lay some thin
cedar planks between the pots and the sand and saturate
the planks with water. This seemed to raise the humidity,
and reduce the need for excessive watering. I planted
more seeds yesterday and hope this helps. What p….s
me off, after all this technology, is that when I turned
my compost pile over the other day, there, at the bottom,
were dozens of squash seeds germinating like crazy! By
the way, I’m using Sunshine Mix #1, made by Sun Gro Horticulture
of Bellview, WA, which is supposed to be pretty good stuff.
To be certain of sterilization, I nuke the mix in the
microwave before planting. I only have room for one pumpkin,
and my only successful seedling sits, in near dormancy,
in a gallon bucket outside in the coldframe – apparent
healthy, but no doubt cursing me for being planted too

The milky stuff was fungus. You probably didn’t
put an antifungal powder on your seeds. Then you watered
too much and at the same time didn’t have a high enough
temperature to germinate your seeds. They sat there in
a temp not high enough to sprout and rotted. I’m sure
you’ll get a lot of advise on this one because I think
it happens a lot.

Reguarding your question about germination,
I and many of my friends have had the same problem. I
have spoken with Howard Dill recently about this and he
said he has received many phone calls from all over and
everyone seems to be having the same problems with last
years seed stock, it only seems to be from the seeds dried
out of the 1995 pumpkin stock. If you have older stock
try germinating that. He’s not sure be Howard thinks it
could be from people not taking the seeds out of the pumpkins
early enough and they are cooking inside the pumpkins,
and not being dried out properly. The other cause could
have been from last years weather there was so much heat
and so little water, the seeds could have cooked inside
the pumpkins last growing season. In any event they seem
to be already dead and we are planting them which is causing
them to rot and decay in the soil and that is the white
film you are seeing.

Did you use a fungicide on the seeds? I have
had lower germination numbers when I fail to use it. Daniel
J. Gardner (dang@athenet.net) Internet Pumpkin Enthusiast
Giant pumpkin webmaster: http://www.athenet.net/~dang/garden-forum-education/pumpkins/world-class-giant-pumpkin-home-page-2/

There are a few things you can do to improve
germination percentages. The seed itself could be a factor.
Some seeds are better than others. Assuming that there
is not a problem with the seeds, next look at temps…..
. The Atlantic Giant is temperature sensitive and should
never be started at temps of 70 or lower…. you will
get little or no germination. Soil temp should be a minimum
of 80 degrees and is even better @ 85. 90 to 95 degrees
will make them come up quick but I hesitate to recommend
a temp that high unless you have precise temperature control.
If your temperature runs away and gets up into the 100s
you may cook the seeds so 85 is a good safe temp. The
white exudate that you see is just the mush (highly technical
term) from the broken down seed. Bottom heat is good for
seed starting and propagation mats are available from
greenhouse supply places. Sterilized light weight seed
starting mixes are the best. My favorite is Peters seed
starting mixes….. they are easy to wet too. Some people
file the edges of the seed to help it crack open… don’t
file too deep and damage the seed. Some seeds just aren’t
viable or are hollow inside. Al Berard likes to take his
seeds and drop them on the kitchen table from a height
of about 6 or 8 inches. The hollow seeds don’t have the
same ring to them. That is about it. Oh, also you may
try a little Captan on the seeds @ planting. pumkinguy@aol.com

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I have one question I need answered. I have
four plants started in one of the greenhouses at a farm
I work at. The plants look weak. One has a droopy third
leaf while the others look like they have deformed
with little yellow spots on them. Should I
be worried. If so , what should I do to correct the problem.
I plan on putting the pumpkins in the ground within the
week. I was also wondering what temperature it should
be outside to plant the pumpkins. Is it too early? Last
year I started late and had some trouble. This year I
hope to start on time. Am I on time. Thanks Zach

Zach, I’d start some back-up seeds on a regularly
schedule, just to be sure. If you aren’t happy with the
looks of the seedlings you can go for the next group.
Too much moisture/heat may be your problem in the direct
sun greenhouse. Try to put a sun blocker above the seedlings
to block some of the direct light and heat. You’re not
too late! I’ve not planted a seed yet. Ray Waterman/WPC

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Is it possible to get two differentseed colors from the same pumpkin?

I have seen slight differences in seed coats when looking
at seeds from the same pumpkin. It seems to me that it
was the Holland 792 that had some smooth seeds and some
that had tiny pock marks the size of a pin prick…….
I may be wrong on this one but I am pretty sure it was
the 792. Weir’s 914 had seeds that were shaped the same
but some were a little darker…. kind of off-white and
light brown. Since 1983 I have carved probably 4 or 5
hundred Atlantic Giants for my Halloween celebration and
virtually all were either brown or all white. In a brown
seeded pumpkin you will see some white ones but they are
usually skinny and not viable. I have never seen plump
dark brown seeds and plump white seeds in the same one.
I have seen brown seeds with white tips on some. By the
way, in case some of you hadn’t heard, some of the largest
pumpkins have come from white seeds, so they are not necessarily
inferior. Lgourd may have some input on this…. he has
cut open a few. I am quite confident that if you use different
types of male pollen on one female flower that the genetically
different pollen grains will germinate, grow pollen tubes,
and send different genetic material into each ovule that
will end up being a mature seed. I had some seeds in 1986
that if you planted 10 seeds….8 would be beautiful orange
and 2 were pure green squash. It is quite common to see
many traits from seeds out of the same pumpkin. The 792
will give you nice big orange ones or smaller white pumpkins
that are shaped like cartwheels. To straighten one out
genetically would take 5 or 6 years of inbreeding and
type selecting to produce consistent specimens. When making
a true hybrid ( which the Atlantic Giant isn’t) you must
inbreed two lines until you get consistency …. usually
5 or 6 inbreeding then you cross pollinate the two dissimilar
types. The resulting seeds from that cross will be hybrids
and may show heterosis or hybrid vigor. Many (most) people
cross pollinate different males and females, hoping to
get some hybrid vigor but the seeds are such an open pollinated
hodge podge (genetically) that there is no predictability.
Seeds are a big gamble, even when you are using good ones.


P.S. My guess would be that the color of the seed coat
comes from a gene from the female……If the seed coat
color gene came from the male flower, you could pollinate
with white seeded pollen and some brown seeded pollen
and get half of each color in the next batch of seeds.
I have not seen this happen so I must assume seed coat
color is a female trait.

Not usually but it can happen, it may also
mean one of the colors is infertile. George

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Is there any correlation to enormous
seed leaves
and a very thick stalk at an early age
to the growth of a larger than average fruit. The seed
leaves of this plant grew to well over 5″ before growth
of true leaves even began. Also the stalk of the plant
at 21 days is well over 2″

I have not always had the best plant produce
the largest Pumpkin.

Large seed leaves and a 2 inch stalk @ 21
days does not insure a larger specimen, but I’ll tell
you what……….. given a choice, I’ll take a nice vigorous
plant like that any day. Large seeds don’t seem to have
any bearing on ultimate pumpkin size. You have to like
the position you are in right now. Things are getting
serious in my part of New England now. We need a drastic
weather change very soon. Waterlogged soil and air temps
of 50 if we are lucky. I normally prepare my patch with
tractors, etc. I actually got stuck with a 4 wheel drive
tractor today……that’s bad. 55 degree soil temp today……
transplants are still in the greenhouse and must be transplanted
in the next 3 days so they don’t get too big. pumkinguy@aol.com

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Where can I buy good seeds?

You can buy Atlantic Giant Pumpkins seed at
any licenced retailer or seed distributer. Check your
local major nursery store. You can buy the seeds via mail
order by reading the Secrets page.

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How do I enter a contest?

Join a local Society which is defined on the
. Unoffical
Giant Pumpkin page

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Are there any good books
or other sources of information?

World Class Giant Pumpkins – by Don Langevin

Pumpkin King – by Al Kingsbury

Pumpkin Growing Tools

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Who holds the world record?

Please see this page for the current

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With new seedlings planted,
1) What is the correct fertilizing
prior to pollination? Daily or weekly applications?
2) What is the fertilizer ratio?
When the pumpkin is pollinated,
1) What is the correct fertilizing program after pollination?
Daily or weekly applications?
2) What is the fertilizer ratio?

If you ask 20 top growers, you might get
10 different answers on this one. Before any fertilizer
is put on a soil test should be done to detect deficiencies
or more likely fertilizer levels that are too high. Many
giant pumpkin growers get carried away with fertilizer
amounts. Every fertilizer has a salt index….. the higher
the number, the more likely it will burn the plant. If
your potash levels are very high it would not be a good
idea to use a high potash (K) blend. I surveyed 20 growers
a few years back and the general trend was to use a high
phosphorous fertilizer like 15-30-15 in the beginning.
In cool spring soil the blend should have some of the
nitrate form of nitrogen in it. Nitrates are available
to the plant when things are cool. After pollination,
many use a higher nitrogen and potash formula 20-20-20
or even higher on the first and third numbers. A point
of information…. The first number on the bag is the
Nitrogen, second Phosphorous, third Potash. pumkinguy@aol.com

Foliar feeding has become very popular lately and I
do it myself. Foliar feeding, however, does not work very
well and I’ll tell you why. Two years ago I had a long
talk with one of the technical experts at Peters plant
food. A VERY small percentage of the foliar fertilizer
actually enters the plant through the leaf cuticle. Peters
did studies where they covered the pots that the plants
were growing in and they found little plant response to
foliar applications. Other plants that didn’t have their
pots covered showed a good response. What was happening
was that most of the foliar applied fertilizer was actually
being washed off and entering the plant through the roots.
If you look at an Atlantic Giant leaf, you will notice
that if you apply water to the leaf it will run down the
leaf, down the stem, and right into the tap root at the
base of the stem. So foliar feeding does work but it doesn’t
enter the plant ( at least most of it doesn’t) enter through
the leaf but through the roots when it is washed off with
watering. A small percentage does enter through the leaves
and the best form of foliar nitrogen is urea….stay away
from high amoniacal formulations. As far as doubling or
tripling dosage…. some do it but it is a risky business.
Remember this is fertilizer and it can burn. I would personally
go with rec. dosages. pumkinguy@aol.com

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Plant stress

I have a plant that is 28 days old on Sunday
it’s about 4 ft long. The question I have is it has allot
of male flowers and a pumpkin out on the main vine. What
would cause the plant to do that a such a young age?

Stress can cause a pumpkin plant to flower
and show fruit prematurely. Too much fertilizer, water
stress, etc. I have seen Atlantic Giants in small pots
that had dried out and had flowers and small pumpkins
on a one foot vine. If the area you have planted in is
way too hot (fertilizer wise) it is not too late to start
another plant but time is of the essence. Study what you
are doing differently this year and you may have the clue.
Mega doses of foliar feed might do it. There is something
definitely wrong for a healthy plant doesn’t reach your
stage for 50 or 60 days depending on climate.

I thought of another thing that could cause
a small vine to have flowers and fruit. Too much water
in the root zone (flooded soil with no air). I planted
some field pumpkins on the edge of a field where the drainage
was poor. We had a wet spring and with all the water in
the root zone, there was no oxygen and the roots were
damaged and stunted. The result was that I had very small
plants with early fruit and blossoms in that area. The
rest of the field was OK. With the unusually cold and
WET spring that we have had in New England, that is another
possibility. pumkinguy@aol.com

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Would someone advise me on how to deal with cucumber
. In previous years I’ve been using Thiodan
to control vine borers, squash bugs,and cucumber beetles.
This year Thiodan don’t seem to be working. I never seen
so many cucumber beetles. They just destroyed three of
my plants in one night. Also would someone tell me how
many main runners I should allow to set on. Last year
I let my plants go wild. I’m told I should trim. Any help
you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Seven is the most effective weapon again cuke
Beetles. George Brooks

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Leaf wilt

My plants are 4 wks. old and have been outside
in a greenhouse. I removed the greenhouse when it finally
got sunny and warm. My plants seem to be growing well
and have good color. This is the first time since they
have been growing we got good sun, as soon as the sun
hits the plants they start to wilt and look bad if the
sun goes away or I shade them they perk back up and look
fine. They have plenty of water maybe to much. I’ve been
using maricle grow 15-30-15 once a week on them. I don’t
understand what is causing them to wilt when the sun hits
them. Hope someone can help me with this.

What you are seeing is temperature stress.
As you have said, there is plenty of water in the ground
but they wilt. On the underside of your leaves you have
stomata (pores), When the temperature gets hot with full
sun, the leaf temperature soars…..10 to 15 degrees higher
than the air temperature, the stomata close to conserve
water and the plant wilts. I have been battling this for
years in Connecticut. On a day where it is 90, you may
have field temperatures of 110 to120 degrees….. put
a thermometer out there in the patch….you will be amazed.
I have used intermittent water sprays for the last ten
years during the heat of the day. Don’t believe the storys
you hear about water droplets acting like magnifying glasses
and burning the leaves…..old wives tale. You will not
have any extra disease pressure as long as you don’t keep
them wet too long. Use a low volume sprinkler like a Naan
Turbohammer…. about 7 dollars each. They will spray
a 30 foot circle with only .33 gallons per minute. Leave
the spray on for 5 or 10 minutes with the rest of the
hour off so the leaves dry. That is the trick to keep
disease under control …the leaves must dry in between
watering cycles. The tiny sprinklers will not make a muddy
mess because there is little coming out of them. The evaporative
cooling will make the leaves come right up. To try this
just take your hose and spray the leaves for 5 minutes
on one plant, wait another 5 minutes and your plant will
be standing at attention. Shading will accomplish the
same thing but too much shade will cut down on photosynthesis.

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Weighing Process

Some time ago I read how one could judge the
weight of a pumpkin by the circumference of it. Does someone
have information about that? Any thoughts for judging
the weights as they grow would be helpful.

Measure your pumpkins at least weekly. Gains
in circumference can average four to six inches in a 24
hour period. Measure the circumference of your pumpkins
first parallel to the ground around the entire pumpkin,
from blossom end to stem. Next, measure over the top in
both directions: from ground to ground along the axis
from stem to blossom end, then perpendicular to the stem-blossom-end
axis. Add these three measurements together (inches),
then multiply by 1.9 to give an estimate of the pumpkin’s

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Which vine to choose

Well it’s do or die time. Should I pull up my
largest pumpkin vine or will it eventually come around?
My largest of three vines refuses to flower while my other
vines already have several promising candidates on each.
Is their some type of “infusion” I should try before yanking
the big one. The reason I hesitate to pull it is this
plant should produce best because of it’s lineage. Any

How long is the vine? If it doesn¹t produce
by 15′ I would take it out but that is a very personal
decision for you to make. George Brooks

I agree with GBpumpkin. If you are out over
15 feet with no blossoms, something may be up. It seems
to me that one of the lady growers had an 800 or 900 pounder
out about 20 feet last year. Can’t remember who it was.
You must have started very early to have vines that long
already. Most growers don’t set fruit until late June
or early July. Seems to me that the lady that set fruit
@20 feet , set fruit around the third week of July. If
the plant is not crowding the others out, I would leave
it. If you are in a warm growing area, 70 days after fruit
set is enough time for fruit development, meaning if you
set fruit now you will be close to done by the end of
August. Thats a long time for a ripe pumpkin to be sitting
around waiting for the October fairs. Growers up North
or in the Pacific Northwest have cooler weather and a
long slow grow. They need more time. A pumpkin has a biological
time clock so if you start early they end early. An extreme
example of this would be a grower in Florida. He could
start a plant in Feb but it will not continue to grow
until Oct. ( 240 days). Environmental factors will speed
up or slow down the biological time clock ( number of
degree days) . Where it is hot ( where I am ) we might
be good for 140 days. Joel Holland might go 160 days in
the cool Northwest. I say don’t yank it unless it is crowding
the others, if so get out the knife. pumpkinguy@aol.com

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My pollination questions are:
1. Will a single giant pumpkin pollinate itself satisfactorily,
or would it be better to let all plants grow to flowering
stage so they could cross pollinate each other? 2. On
the other side of my yard there are some other varieties
of pumpkins growing, – small jack-o-lanterns and lumina
– should I be concerned about these crossing with the

1. In rare cases Atlantic Giants have produced
only female flowers. You may want to line up another grower
to supply male flowers in an emergency. 2. I’ve never
had a problem with cross pollination with Butternut, Frosty
Bush Pumpkin or Baby Bear Pumpkin. George Brooks

normal Atlantic Giant plant will have male and female
flowers aplenty. I have seen occasionally where a plant
would have all males or all females until quite late in
the season which would not be good if you only have one
plant. Usually you should have a few males to do the job.
If you are not trying to do specific breeding, you can
hand pollinate some of the male pollen on to the female
gently with a soft bristled brush. Also you can let the
bees do their thing for additional pollinating. You may
have trouble pollinating on days of 90 degrees and up.
Just keep trying and you will succeed. Atlantic Giants
are in the Cucurbita Maxima family and will not cross-pollinate
with a regular field pumpkin which is a Cucurbita Pepo.
Atlantic Giants will cross with many members of the winter
squash family. I can’t help you with the Lumina…. I
assume it is either a Pepo or a Maxima, but I am not sure.
GBPumpkin or lgourd may know…. if not, ask the seed
supplier what the family is. Leaving the other plants(Atlantic
Giant) plants in as pollinators is O.K. as long as you
have room. The stem of the Lumina may give you a clue
as to what family it is in. Maxima have large soft stems
generally like a winter squash. Pepo has a hard gourdlike
stem. I have seen Luminas but can’t remember what the
stem looks like. pumkinguy@aol.com

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I get just infested with vine
…I spray rotengen(sp) and still I end up
cutting them out by the dozens in the vine…it basically
stops all growth of the pumpkin…even when covering the
vines with dirt. Is there a better way?

Try Methoxychlor each week in June and July.
During times of heavy infestation, spray every 5 days
and after heavy rain or watering. Rotenone is not as potent
a killer as Methoxychlor. pumkinguy@aol,com

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PH levels

Hello Again. Does anyone know how big my plants
should be at this stage in the year. Also, I chencked
the pH of my soil. Its about 7.2. SHould I put some stuff
in the ground to bring down the pH. What should I use?
Is it too late? Any water soluble stuff that I could use?

7.2 pH is slightly high, I would leave it as is. There
have been some massive pumpkins grown at that pH and higher.
Len Stellpflug comes to mind….. he has grown some 600,
700 pound squash in that pH range. Sulfur or Aluminum
sulfate will lower your pH but let mother nature do it.
Also, most fertilizers have a slight acidifying effect.

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HELP! Despite all that I have learned about starting
seeds indoors
, I still must STILL be doing some things

Early this season a constructed a light table using eight
(8) flourescent shoplights (2 bulb 4″ cool white type).
This equals 16 each of the 40 watt tubes. I prepared my
soil mix with fresh supplies of 1/3 perlite, 1/3 coarse
vermiculite, and 1/3 shredded peat moss. I pre-moisted
the mix slightly at potting time to accept moisture. I
treated a medium sized pail of the moistened mix with
about 2 teaspoons of Captan powder and mixed it around.
I am using 4 inch peat pots with holes poked in the bottom
and around the perimeter of the base. I wet the seeds
I received from GBPUMPKIN for a couple of minutes and
dusted liberally with with Captan powder. I set the seeds
in the mix with the points down and covered very loosely
with about 1/2 inch of mix. The surface temp of the peat
pot under the lights was measured with an outdoor thermometer
at 85 degrees. To reach this temp I supplemented the heat
of the shop lights with a 500 watt halogen worklight placed
about 18 inches under the 1/2 plywood table. The lights
are left burning 24 hours a day. The temp in the bottom
of the pot holding trays did not exceed 90F. I run a dehumidifier
at a medium setting in the basement. The lights are about
2-3 inches above the peat pots. The lights are placed
very close together in the interest of raising the local
temperatures. I placed several white corrogated cardboard
pieces around the perimeter of the light assembly to hold
the heat in and to concentrate (by a litte reflection)
some of the light into the main area. My initial watering
was thorough. I have used no fertilizers. I basically
added water to the moistened mix, with the seeds installed,
until water flowed slightly from the bottom holes. Although
I suspect I have overwatered slightly, from here things
were looking ok. I got good germination percentages with
the seeds up in about 4-5 days. Once the seed ejected
from the soil, I carefully removed the seed jackets to
expose the first two leaves. No damage was inflicted during
jacket removal. Soon after, the seedlings just didn’t
seem to progress. In fact, the 5/14/96 starts seem to
have stalled. The seed jacket leaves expanded slightly,
but not with the vigor I saw last year with Ray Waterman’s
seeds. In fact, they began to curl under slightly rather
than grow vigorously. One is showing signs of yellowing,
but I have seen this before and not gotten too concerned
about it. Yesterday I noticed that the first true leaf
trying to emerge on some of them. On over 75% of them
the first true leaf has become brown and shriveled on
the ends, looking like it will not emerge properly. This
has occurred before the first leaf is even 1/8 to 1/2
inch in size! I have noticed a general deterioration of
the plants in the last 48 hours. I have backed off on
heat and water a bit, thinking that I am cooking the plants
and/or drowning them. I am stumped and GETTING RATHER
NERVOUS HERE! I cannot bear the have the same failures
I had last year. I am especially upset because I just
commited the rest of my GBPUMPKIN seed stock (8 seeds)
to the same method with a 5/25/96 start. If I lose those
to this problem, I am hurting BIG TIME. I need a pep talk
here and some strong advice on how to recover. My 50×50
is tilled. I have constructed a wonderful cold frame.
I just completed it tonight. It is 6x6x4 in size (Howard
Dill style design). The mound was formed by excavating
a 5′ diameter circle to a depth of 34 inches. A mix of
75% compost and 25% topsoil filled the hole and formed
a nice mound. Outdoors, I am ready. But, indoors are looking
shaky and I am OUT OF SEEDS!


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I was wondering what everyone thinks the best
times are to fertillize the pumpkins.
1 of course is
when you first plant them ,but what about the other times
when they start to run?,when the pumpkin begins to set?
etc.I know there will be different opinions, but I would
like to hear all you want to send me .

My opinion is that a constant feeding schedule
is best, so you don’t get highs and lows. Every time you
water , you apply dilute fertilizer. On a small scale,
this might work out to one half tablespoon per gallon
instead of one or two tablespoons, however , you are applying
fertilizer continuously. 15-30-15 up until fruit set,
then 20-20-20 or even higher on the second and third numbers
after fruit set. pumkinguy@aol.com

opinion is that a constant feeding schedule is best, so
you don’t get highs and lows. Every time you water , you
apply dilute fertilizer. On a small scale, this might
work out to one half tablespoon per gallon instead of
one or two tablespoons, however , you are applying fertilizer
continuously. 15-30-15 up until fruit set, then 20-20-20
or even higher on the second and third numbers after fruit
set. >> Good advise, during the fruit growth stage
if you put the plant through highs and lows it may cause
premature maturity, resulting in a small Pumpkin. George

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Well my pumpkin seedlings just got beaten from a little hail storm.They are bruised
and battered but the inner leaves appear to be intact.My
question is how much can the seedlings take before they
give up and die?They have lost some of their “seedling
leaves” and their second leaves are just coming out.

Give them liquid fertilizer right away to
help them through the stress. You may also treat them
with a Fungicide to help the healing and prevent disease.
George Brooks

not. Hail damage to leaves is not usually fatal. Hail
damage to a young pumpkin can be more serious. Although
they may look a little torn up now, give them a week and
they will bounce back. The seed leaves are of little use
now….they normally wither anyway. pumkinguy@aol.com

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I know it is a little early to be asking this, but what
do people recommend
for putting under the pumpkin once the fruit is growing?
I have heard some say sand, but in my case (growing
on the lawn of my back yard) I don’t think I can be putting
sand all around. I may need something else a little easier
to clean up. What about a burlap sack, or landscaping

Clean soil is the best, I would not recommend
anything else. George

Each year, when the fruit get to be about
the size of a football, I place a piece of 1″ styrofoam
under each. I buy 4′ by 8′ sheets and cut these into four
pieces. I feel the styrofoam helps keep the fruit up off
the ground which helps to prevent pathogens from infecting
the pumpkin. Also, it repels water and keeps the fruit
bottom relatively dry. Will Nova Scotia,

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I know this topic was mentioned earlier, leaves
wilting on hot
, muggy days, but I’d like to find out
more about it. I rememer from a plant science course I
took a while back that in order to grow, a plant must
be turgid that is, full of water. My wilting plants have
about 15-20 leaves and all the old leaves are wilted in
the hot weather. The new leaves seem quite turgid, so
I wonder if the wilting is a problem. The old leaves are
no longer growing, so is the lack of turgidity, (a word?)
a problem? Appreciate your comments.

It is important to try to keep the leaves
from wilting if you can. The stomata close when the plant
wilts so photosynthesis will be severely cut back. Although
a leaf may be full grown, it is very important to the
plant as a photosynthate (food) exporter to other parts
of the plant. A small growing leaf will consume more food
than it produces so take care of those big leaves….they
will be exporting food to that big pumpkin soon. pumkinguy@aol.com

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Please do not slit your vine and try to milk
feed your pumpkin.
….it is the biggest wives tale
in the pumpkin world. Cutting or slitting your pumpkin
will destroy your vine and nothing will be taken up by
a slit vine in the process. Milk has water in it (over
90% )…. thats good but your hose supplies that. Milk
has some calcium in it ( that’s good but limestone and
calcium nitrate have that. Milk has some sugar in it (lactose)….
not the same type of sugars found in plants. Finally milk
has fat in it…that is REAL BAD. The first thing a good
composter will tell you is don’t add meat or fat scraps
to your pile. I can’t imagine how injecting fat into a
plant would help even if it would enter through the slit
(which it won’t). I know virtually every one of the top
growers in the world and to my knowledge NOT ONE milk
feeds. The least damaging application would be to apply
no fat milk to the soil and let the roots take it up.
You will get a much greater effect by putting the low
fat milk on your cereal in the morning to give you lots
of energy to take care of your plant the right way. Now
go out there and gett’em and keep the knife blades away
from your plant! pumkinguy@aol.com

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Hello everyone again. I want to thank everyone for their
help on my recent questions. I appreciate your time and
advice. I have one other question though. Can anyone tell
me if light green leaves are OK. The leaves
on my two plants seem to lack good green color. Is this
a problem. If so, what can be done. Also my plants are
kind of small. Only three small true leaves per plant.
Is this a bad sign. Thanks again.

seeing things it is tough to tell but I can tell you this….
we have had some terrible weather in New England…. cold,wet,
and little sun. It is possible that the light green is
not a fertilizer defficiency, but a lack of quality sunlight.
If you have a week of dark nasty weather, the foliage
will lighten. Chlorophyll can’t develop without proper
sunlight ( hilling up celery blocks out sun and blanches
the celery to a light green). If the plants are still
inside, get them out…. there is not a grow light made
that can compete with the real sun and that includes 1,000
watt coated Supermetallarc bulbs, which are many times
stronger than a regular grow light fixture. So if they
are out, just wait for a week that has temps above 70
and full sun…..we haven’t had it yet. If they are not
in the soil, get them outside and water them in with 15-30-15
@ 1 tablespoon per gallon and hope for good growing conditions.
The extended forecast for N. E. looks better for the weekend.

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Some time ago I read how one could judge the weight
of a pumpkin
by the circumference of it. Does someone
have information about that? Any thoughts for judging
the weights as they grow would be helpful.

Measure your pumpkins at least weekly. Gains
in circumference can average four to six inches in a 24
hour period. Measure the circumference of your pumpkins
first parallel to the ground around the entire pumpkin,
from blossom end to stem. Next, measure over the top in
both directions: from ground to ground along the axis
from stem to blossom end, then perpendicular to the stem-blossom-end
axis. Add these three measurements together (inches),
then multiply by 1.9 to give an estimate of the pumpkin’s

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Its getting warm outside
and I’m opening the ends of the hoophouse
to vent
the heat. What is the acceptable heat range to consider?
If it is 75F, do I need to open the ends? The evening
temps range from 43-53F. When should I remove the hoophouse?
Next question: Now that my pumpkin is growing, When do
I start mounding the vine? What is the distance I stop
mounding the vine when I set a fruit? Please provide the
raidus from the stem of the fruit.

Temps above 90 are not the friend of the pumpkin.
If you are covering the vine with soikl, you have to wait
until the vine is out a few feet so the side vines don’t
get buried. If the vine is out 6 feet , you might be able
to bury the first two feet of the vine. pumkinguy@aol.com

Yes….the S curve is good and cut the tap root at the
pumpkin and one on each side of it so the vine can lift.
There are more exotic ways to leave all tap roots on and
let the vine raise but they are a pain with a lot of tinkering.

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