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Field day examines science behind great pumpkins

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Written Friday, August 11, 2006  

There's a science to growing great orbs, and farmers can step into one outdoor laboratory during Ohio State University's Pumpkin Field Day.

The event takes place from 6-7:30 p.m. Aug. 24 at OSU's Western Agricultural Research Station at South Charleston, Ohio. The research station is part of OSU's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

At the research station Ohio State scientists study better ways to produce pumpkins. They'll showcase their research and findings at the field day.

One demonstration plot will show various cover crops, fall-planted annual ryegrass, cereal rye and hairy vetch, and the effect on minimizing soilborne diseases such as fusarium, said Jim Jasinski, an OSU Extension educator with the Ohio Integrated Pest Management program.

"We also have trials to evaluate the prevention of seed feeding by mice and voles using products like garlic sprinkles, garlic oil, capsaicin oil and Bitrex, supposedly the world's most bitter substance," Jasinski said.

Many of the research trials are supported with grower check-off funds from the Ohio Vegetable and Small Fruit Research and Development Program.

Among the featured experiments:

* Approximately 18 different pumpkin varieties being evaluated for disease resistance, fruit size, shape and yield.

* Efficacy of standard, high-input and low-input fungicide programs on susceptible and powdery mildew-tolerant pumpkin varieties, plus a look at environmental and economic costs in the second-year trial.

* A Plectosporium (white speck) evaluation trial with pumpkin varieties from several other countries.

* The effects of four different in-furrow starter fertilizers on pumpkin germination and development.

Field day speakers include Jasinski and the following OSU specialists: Celeste Welty, Department of Entomology; Bob Precheur, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science; and Lanny Rhodes and Mac Riedel, Department of Plant Pathology.

Field day admission is $2 per person. An additional $9 will be added to the cost for growers seeking Certified Crop Adviser and Ohio Department of Agriculture credits. Handouts will be available for most topics. Water and soft drinks will be offered. Covered wagons will take tour participants from station to station.

The Western Agricultural Research Station is 3.5 miles northwest of South Charleston on state Route 41 at 7639 South Charleston Pike, in Clark County. For a map of the area log onto http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/branches/western.htm .

The field day is sponsored by OARDC and OSU Extension. For more information, contact Jasinski at (937) 484-1526 or by e-mail at jasinski.4@osu.edu .

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