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Cliff's Grower Log -- July 2003

July 1

I'm still ahead of last year...

Its the first of July again. This year my Yanks are 52-30. A little better than last year. Just like me. And, they started off hot, then cooled way down, and now they're hot again. Hmmm... very much like my season so far.

The 652 and the 296 (512 est) Holland each have 11-foot mains. The 1049 Holland should reach 11 feet by the end of today.

July 2

Some good pollinations this morning... but still no visible females on either the 1049 or 922.

I took this female off and photographed it. From this perspective, you can see how it is important to get the pollen down around the base of the lobes...

July 7

Back from a 4th of July break. Spent the 4th at the "Stadium of Fire" in Provo... flyover by fighter jets, lots of patriotism, concert by Martina McBride... really great show! OK, back to pumpkins ;-)

Late on the 3rd of July I noted that females are finally forming on both the 1049 and 922. These are now forming at the end of practically every vine. They will be a little late, but wow, these could all come on in one day or two. I hope I'm not gone that day! But I wonder what causes this (probably genetic) that there would be absolutely none, then POW!, a female begins to form simultaneously at the end of EVERY vine?

This past weekend, I was afraid that a female on the 296-inch main, 11 feet out, would open the day I was gone, so I enlisted the help of a neighbor, to come over and pollinate it should it happen to open they day I was gone.

Right now my pollination log is full of entries from the 652, then it switches to the 296. Now, late this week it should switch to the 1049 and 922.

July 9

The 922.5 Emmons plant looks like it is ready to explode with 5 or more females opening tomorrow. The 1049 looks like it may take another two days or so.

Did I mention that I hate wind? I still do, but the plants survived a full day of high wind yesterday. My "snow fence" must be helping.

July 11

Between yesterday and today, there are too many females to pollinate. The 922 plant has gone bonkers, with about 8 opening in two days. The 1049 Holland had it's first two open this morning.

One interesting observation. On all of my plants, the first several females that open are all 4-lobes. Then, after the first few are done, they switch to 5-lobes, and remain 5 lobes after that. I would have to think this is genetic... the female can't just decide at the last moment how many lobes it's going to be.... hmmm... what am I saying?? I'm talking about pumpkins here, folks! This must be programmed from the time the female "ball" begins forming. But without exception, all of my plants have followed this formula.

Hot and dry here. It was around 100 yesterday, and we should stay well into the 90's for the forseeable future. Time to grow!

It will be about a week before I get a chance to make another update.

July 17

Back from a break... and I'm in better shape than I expected. But our irrigation water was shut down while we were gone. I came back to some VERY droopy plants. But all is well now. I've got two that are nearly 100 OTT inches. I've got to get some shade on those. On the whole there are at least 20 that have been pollinated between 21-June and 11-July.

I realize I've been very lax in the photography department lately. I promise to fix that, soon.

July 18

This one is on the 652 main. Pollinated on the 21st of June, I hope to take it to the state fair in late August.

Sorry, no Shasta for perspective...

This other one is on the 296-inch (512 EST) Holland. It's not even the one on the main, but it's going gangbusters... I'm a little concerned about the amount of scarring, already, but oh well. All of the fruits on this plant show this scarring.

Should I ressurect the nick-name "Scarface"?

July 21

Time for an update from each plant:

652 Pukos : This one has been a bit disappointing in the fruit growth department. The plant itself has slowed down a lot since the hoophouses came down. It has my biggest fruit, on the main, but it is only about 6 feet out and the leaves supporting it appear to be quite "worn". Another fruit that I had on the rear main, aborted. It has a couple of other hopes growing on it. Time will tell.

296-inch (512 EST) Holland : The plant has struggled, it double vined, it received a lot of wind damage, and the leaves are the first to wilt in the heat. But it has two nicely growing pumpkins on it. And, a lot of others. I've been pruning it heavily. One other note about the double-vining: it appears that the double-vining has effectively made this plant a "NO main" plant... although there is a vine that I can easily identify as the main, or at least I could... lately this main vine is the first to shut down in the heat. The two or three sets on it aren't growing well. On the other hand, a vine coming out of the clump of stuff near the stump is growing a great, fast growing pumpkin. I think this vine is stealing energy from the main.

1049 Holland : I love this plant for it's strong, stout, beautiful leaves and stately, if not rapid, growth. It was a little late in producing females. I have two set on very short side vines off the main, and I'll need to take out one of them. I love this plant but I wish it would "rock and roll" a little more.

922.5 Emmons : Speaking of rock and roll, after high winds ravaged the 922 when the hoophouses came down, this plant has finally begun to live up to it's storied reputation. It's now recovered and taken on a new life, expanding and devouring everything in it's path. I have about 5 solid sets, and will need to keep trimming to keep things manageable. One of my original goals was to "self" this one. I would love to have a stockpile of 500 of these seeds. That has happened, as well as a set where the 810 Christensen (big orange color) is the father.

Three other plants, which didn't get into hoophouses and as such are laboring along, a lot smaller, are the 810 Christensen, 971 Zunino, and 337 Card. I'm hoping these will produce a female this week, but I don't have any record breakers here. They're just too far behind. I'll never do this again without a hoophouse!

July 22

A fruit on the 296-inch Holland has really started to grow! It's at 57 inches circumference at day 17. Last year I was at 46 inches on day 17 with Freeze, and that one didn't have the vine to support big-time growth in August...

I've decided to name this monster "Betelgeuse".

I counted 8 (there are probably more) on the 922 this morning. It's probably time to do some culling.

July 23

Today's big news is that Betelgeuse has hit 60.5 inches in circumference on day 18. I don't know if the vine is long enough to push this one to 100 at day 30, much less to 1000 pounds, but I can dream for now. Let's see, (excuse me for a minute... 100 - 60.5 = 39.5 ... 39.5/12 = 3.29 ...) Can I add 3.29 inches a day in circumference for the next 12 days?

Betelgeuse has a nice shape, hard to describe but it's a shape that I see in a lot of real giants. The stem is very short, and careful vine management will be necessary. I'll be posting pictures soon.

July 24

Betelgeuse was over 64 inches this morning. This is good, at this pace it would achieve 100 inches in circumference by day 30. In fact, tomorrow is day 20... I have to move the pumpkin on a daily basis to relieve vine stress.

Today's other good news: It's RAINING!!! (We've had two straight weeks with temps into or near 100.)

July 28

Betelgeuse has slowed a bit... and there are parts of the fruit that aren't developing. This one was actually pollinated by a neighbor while I was away on July 5th... I'm not sure what's going to become of it.

Others are coming along, but not at a great pace. I really need to pour on the fert!

I took down the wind fence Saturday. The sunflowers I have growing now are providing a decent windscreen.

July 29

My largest fruit, Betelgeuse had blown by the 60-inch at 20 day benchmark with room to spare. Then the circumference gain started dropping, from 3.5 inches a day to 2 and now to one. I started investigating the vine. It turns out the the monster 922 which is nearby had sent a vine into the 296-inch Holland plant, and was just about taking over. I cut it out. Then I noticed that this fruit, Betelgeuse, is only about 6 feet out instead of the 10 or 11 that I thought... The main vine on this plant takes a more circuitous route, and this fruit was right next to one that was pollinated 11 feet out on the main... but this vine goes straight back to the stump. Anyway.............. maybe this one has a lot less potential than I thought.

I've been pruning, pruning, and more pruning. And still, these plants are way out of control. I'm not used to having big healthy plants. Right now, the 922 Emmons shows the most promise of generating a large fruit. Three fruits remain on the 922, and these are a good distance out.

The 652 is putting out long, tall, barrel shaped fruit. I'm not sure what this will mean in the end. The 1049 has one hope, a beautiful ribbed yellow fruit. But like the plant, it is taking it's time. I've never had a plant as strong or as solid as the 1049, beautiful, big leaves. But it won't be rushed!

Here's a gardener for ya... I need to remember that this little guy is more interesting than pumpkins:

July 30

My largest fruit on the 922.5 Emmons is at 55 inches circumference on day 20. I think it has the most potential of what I have left in the patch. This particular 922 is throwing very round fruit, round like a beach ball.

Betelgeuse has slowed way down. After reaching 66.5 inches on day 20, I don't think it will reach 80 by day 30. Just one inch in each of the last two days. We've had three solid weeks of extreme heat.

I wish I had some photos to share. That is what this site is really about, anyway. They're coming...

July 31

Here are some photos, finally:

On the left is Betelgeuse, on the 296-inch Holland. It's big but it has slowed quite a bit. (By the way, I'm using a 19mm equivalent lens here, perspective is difficult. I've noticed that this makes Betelgeuse look enourmous, but the others are looking smaller than normal... it's how I set it up.) In the middle is Orion, on the 922.5 Emmons. This one is the "new favorite". And on the right, is Cassiopeia, on the 1049 Holland.


Cliff Warren