JIS News

A new variety of pumpkin known as the ‘Bodles Globular’ was presented to farmers at a field day hosted by the Crop and Plant Protection Research Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture to showcase improved technologies for commercial pumpkin production.
The field day was held on Tuesday (April 20) at the Bodles Agricultural Research Station in Old Harbour, St. Catherine.
In giving an overview of the activities, Don McGlashan, Acting Chief Technical Director in the Unit said that the Bodles Globular variety had been derived in order to introduce pumpkin varieties that were high yielding and more competitive.
He also said that the Unit would provide seeds to farmers in October 2004. At least two more varieties are to be presented in 2005 and at least one hybrid variety is to be made available within another two to three years.
Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke, in his remarks, commended the staff at the Bodles Research Station for their “relentless efforts to increase productivity in Jamaica’s agriculture”.
“The station’s on-going breeding programme for pumpkin is aimed at identifying varieties that are high yielding with fruits uniformed in shape and which possess good culinary characteristics to support both the local and export market,” he said.
Minister Clarke emphasised that research was ongoing on a number of plant varieties to improve productivity and resistance to diseases, viruses and pests.
Such research, he said, included work on Scotch bonnet pepper, six seedless varieties of watermelon, 332 lines of tomato and three lines of pumpkin.
Edward Biney, Acting Senior Research Director who made a presentation on Crop Production mentioned that pumpkin grew in a wide variety of soils, provided these soils were well drained, adding that it was best for the land to be finely tilled.
He said that it was recommended that organic manure be used in the holes before planting, that two seeds be planted per hole and that planting distances of 10 or eight feet between rows and six feet between plants be used.
Mr. Biney also mentioned that a fertilization regime was to be started at the third week after planting using approximately 28 grams (one ounce) of NPK 11,22,22 and at the fifth week using 28 grams of sulfate of ammonia.
He also explained that pumpkins required different amounts of water at different stages of its growth cycle, however, he said that water requirement tests were being carried out.
Mr. Biney also noted that farmers could harvest the crop about 90-100 days after planting, adding that they could also recognise the fruit’s readiness for harvesting when it gave a hollow sound when tapped; when the corkscrew becomes dry; or when the stem became pale.
With the right practices, he said, Bodles Globular would yield about 20 tonnes per hectare (18,000 pounds per acre). This, he said, was in comparison to about nine to 18 tonnes per hectare for other varieties of pumpkin.
He also said that in addition to the water requirement test a number of other programmes were being undertaken to determine the most suitable set of conditions in which the Bodles Globular variety should be grown.

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