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Cliff's Grower Log -- September 2003

This sure looks small in the back of my pickup...

September 2

This info actually belongs in August, but oh well...

My fruit on the 652 Pukos turned out to be 255, good for 3rd place at the Eastern Idaho State Fair. Just like last year, but 15 pounds heavier.

Here is a shot of the motley group at the fair:

Brian Christensen won the contest again, with this 482. Take note, Brian says this was grown on the 856 Hester, which by all accounts should be GREEN! But look at it! It looks like the pumpkins he grows on the 867 Mombert! Harold Jorgensen, bellyaching all year that he didn't have any prospects, bettered his last year's fair pumpkin as well with the nicely colored 371. Robin Henrie is now a very active grower, and had some bad luck with her larger pumpkins this year. She entered the 164.

September 4

Not too much to report. One "giant" remains in the patch. Notice that "giant" is in quotes. This one is actually a very pretty color, nice high ribbed fruit on the 1049 Holland. But I'm thinking the best it can do would be around 250. There is a decent chance that I'll take it to Thanksgiving Point. Can't quit now...

September 8

The giant high pressure system that dominated our weather over nearly the entire summer has finally broken. Today at noon time we have temps in the mid-50's, and rain. This is good. We need a big winter to improve our irrigation water situation. I wouldn't mind if we started our snow year in September. Ah, but I think we will need to cover tomatoes tonight.

Speaking of irrigation water, the water has been shut off to residences like mine, while the farmers can use it for a bit longer. I don't know why they bother... we use so little compared to real farmers, oh well.

September 9

My fruit on the 1049 Holland is now at 275 EST. I've just found out that a local nursery is holding a weighoff, and the prize ($50 gift certificates) is better than I can hope for at Thanksgiving Point. More importantly, I'd like to establish a relationship with them... last spring I noted that they were handing out seeds and wanting people to grow them and bring them to the weighoff. They weren't even AG seeds! Well, maybe I can donate the seeds from Cassiopeia (1049 X Self and nicely orange) and they can hand THOSE out next spring. (I first need to check, if they allow pumpkins that were not grown on their seed.)

Maybe someday in the future, this site could be Pocatello's GPC weighoff.

September 11

Cassiopeia on September 10 (1049 Holland X Self)

This fruit has an interesting "stem". Actually, it was pollinated on a side vine just six inches off the main. You can see this in the photo below.

Lots of room on a stem like this...

As you can see, the pumpkin has lots of room to grow with a stem like this, but I'm wondering if it gets all the nourishment that it might if it were actually on the main vine.

This is my last real pumpkin this year. It's going to be harvested today or tomorrow, and taken to a local nursery for a little weighoff they are sponsoring. I think I'll get more mileage at this weighoff than I would at Thanksgiving Point (this year, at least). I do hope to show up at Thanksgiving Point with a camera.

And now.... read this if you're really bored:

Just some thoughts I'm commiting to bits and bytes, in case something here has a resemblance to reality... One thing that I've noticed over the 3 or 4 years of doing this is that almost always the first female flowers to appear on a plant have four lobes. Then, after several four lobe females, five lobe females begin to appear. Then for the rest of time I see only five lobe females on the particular plant.

This seems to me to be genetically programmed, that is how does the female flower come to be 4 or 5 or whatever number of lobes? This seems genetic to me. Notice I'm not necessarily saying that more lobes are better, only that they are (probably, I think) genetically determined. Then, (here is the tricky part) why do they switch from four lobes to five as the vine gets further from the stump?

Putting it another way, perhaps a female flower's potential is genetically determined in a similar way, and flowers that originate further out on the vine have greater potential, not just in the number of leaves driving the fruit, but some genetic predisposition to be able to grow larger. It's been suggested that the fruit's purpose is to produce seeds. Maybe (more lobes or not) fruits that originate further out on the vine are programmed to produce more seeds, and as such can grow much larger.

Or, maybe I'm just trying to figure out why I can't break 400 after three years of trying this. Oh well, there is always next year, when I won't even take down the hoophouses until the vines have significant length.

September 15

This year's frost came on Sept. 13

Our growing season ended Saturday morning with a mild frost. Since all of my giants are out of the patch anyway, this was somewhat welcome. I want to start cleaning up as soon as possible, and start working on soil. I'm also going to do a long overdue spraying for dandelions in my lawn (2-4D).

One topic of concern for growers in our area is that our weighoff host, Thanksgiving Point, is planning to charge growers $25 for the priviledge of having their pumpkins weighed. Of course, we're a little concerned at this, and I don't think this is the last of it.

September 19

Here is a shot of Cassiopeia at a local nursery. I won! I won $50 bucks. First time I've ever won something...

With Emily, Elise, and Bryce...

As I look at the 1049 Holland plant, now that the frost has occurred, I see other smaller fruits and they all have this triangular shape. Big in the stem end, and very small in the rear. Must be genetic. I guess, I won't get excited about these seeds.

September 25

I guess I should update this just so you know I'm not dead or anything. At a time when most growers are holding on for the last week or so, planning the lifting party, etc., my patch has already been cleaned out and mowed over with the riding mower. I've also added 50 lbs of sulfer and 50 lbs of gypsum to the 3000 sq. ft. site for next year. I have plans to have a major amount of compost brought in. And, I may even have my sights set on a tractor. We'll see.

To put an even finer nail in the coffin of this year, I need to take a business trip overseas, and I won't get back until the day before the weighoffs. As I've done this trip once before, I know that I won't be up to driving on our "big Saturday". I really wish I could see people, but I don't think it's going to happen this year. Major bummer.


Cliff Warren