Chapter 7. Cucurbit Production
Botany and Planting
Angled or ridged luffa (silk squash, Chinese okra)—Luffa acutangula
Bittermelon (Chinese and Indian types)—Momordica charantia
Butternut squash—Cucurbita moschata
Chinese cucumber—Trichosanthes kirilowii
Cucumber—Cucumis sativus, Cucurbitaceae
Fuzzy melon (immature fruit) and Winter melon—Benincasa hispida
Long gourd (oopoh)—Lagenaria siceraria
Pumpkin (jack-o-lantern is C. pepo; some processing pumpkins are C. maxima and C. moschata)
Smooth luffa—Luffa aegyptica (cylindrical)
Snake gourd—Trichosanthes cucumerina
Summer squash (crookneck and straight-neck yellow squash)—Cucurbita pepo
Tropical pumpkin (calabaza)—Cucurbita moschata
Winter squash—Cucurbita maxima
Table 7.1. Planting information for cucurbits.
Table 7.2. Cultivars for cantaloupe.
Table 7.3. Cultivars for cucumber.
Table 7.4. Cultivars for Halloween pumpkin (north Florida only).
Table 7.5. Cultivars for squash.
Table 7.6. Cultivars for watermelon.
This group includes cucurbit fruits that can be eaten immature like several other vegetables with edible tender stems and leaves. Matured luffa are not edible, but after peeling off their skin and drying them, they can be used as durable scrubs for dishwashing or showering. All these Asian cucurbits can be grown on raised beds, with or without plastic mulch, and with drip, overhead, or subsurface irrigation. Most of them are well trellised to support the long vines and fruits, primarily to maximize space and sufficient sunlight, to minimize bud drop and fruit rot caused by overshading and exposure to soil moisture and pathogens, and to promote straight fruit. Winter melon is the exception because it is generally too heavy to trellis. Fertilizer recommendations for cucumbers are applicable for fuzzy melon, long gourd, both luffas, Chinese cucumber, bittermelon, and snake gourd. There are two types of bittermelon: Indian and Chinese. The Indian type has smaller fruit with dark-green color and soft, prickled skin, and the Chinese type has longer, larger fruit with light-green color and smooth skin. The Indian type tastes more bitter than the Chinese type. Chinese cucumber, though rarely commercially available, has fruit more than 1 foot long with dark-green color, very thin and rough skin, and crisp texture, similar to European cucumber, but crunchier. Recommendations for watermelon should be followed for winter melon and chayote. With the exception of chayote, where the entire fruit is planted, these crops are started from seed and grown as transplants prior to being set in the field.
Table 7.7. Planting information for Asian cucurbits.
Table 7.8. Cultivars for Asian cucurbits.
The following tables list registered pesticides that should be integrated with other pest management methods. Additional information on integrated management methods can be requested from UF/IFAS Extension horticulture or agriculture Extension agents. A list of local UF/IFAS Extension county offices is available at https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/find-your-local-office/.
Table 7.9. Herbicides approved for managing weeds in cucurbit crops. Contact: Nathan Boyd, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.
Table 7.10. Insecticides labeled for management of arthropod pests of cucurbit crops. Contact: Xavier Martini, UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center–Quincy.
Table 7.11. Cucurbit fungicides ordered by disease and then FRAC group according to their mode of action. Contact: Mathews L. Paret, UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center–Quincy.
Table 7.12. Nonfumigant nematicides for cucurbit crops in Florida. Contact: Johan Desaeger, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.
Table 7.13. Fumigant nematicides for cucurbit crops in Florida. Contact: Johan Desaeger, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.