The great trembling about the pumpkin harvest

The great trembling about the pumpkin harvest
How many pumpkins will there be in the fields this fall? (dpa/Patrick Pleul)
Image: dpa-Zentralbild/Patrick Pleul

In Styria there was already a crisis summit, in Upper Austria the situation is not yet clear: the pumpkin seeds in the ground are hesitant or not germinating this year, the farmers are very worried about the harvest.

The reason lies in a change in the so-called dressing with which the delicate seed kernels of the oil pumpkin have been treated before sowing in recent years to protect them from pests and fungi. The previously used agent Metalaxyl-M may no longer be used due to a judgment by the European Court of Justice. Farmers have to resort to the active ingredient captan, which was also used in the past.

The problem may be that the cold, wet weather combined with the almost unknown seed dressing offers little effective protection against pests and the seeds do not sprout within seven to 14 days as usual. Styria, which, according to the AMA, planted around 8,800 hectares of oil and edible pumpkins this year and is the second largest pumpkin state after Lower Austria (18,300 hectares), fears for the harvest.

“The pumpkin is a mimosa”

In Upper Austria, around ten days ago, a large part of the approximately 1300 ha pumpkin area was totaled. “We’ll see in a few days whether it worked,” say Helmut Feizlmayr and Martin Bäck, crop production experts at the Upper Austrian Chamber of Agriculture. “The pumpkin is simply a mimosa,” says Feizlmayr. The weather plus the ban on pickling with the conventional means is doubly difficult. It could be that the replica will have to be much higher this year, which is only possible until the beginning of June. “We’ll see more early next week,” he hopes.

In Lower Austria, at the beginning of May, most pumpkins were grown in the east, which is generally rather dry. “It should rise well,” expects pumpkin expert Anton Brandstetter. “It’s too wet from Sankt Pölten in the direction of Upper Austria, the soil is heavier, the seeds have been there for a long time. Overall, however, we should have a smaller problem with the pumpkins than in Styria.”

After a three-year increase, the area under oil and edible pumpkins fell significantly this year throughout Austria: the area under cultivation fell by 7,800 hectares to 30,219 hectares.

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