Asked July 9, 2016, 5:13 PM EDT

Hello, it is almost mid july, my pumpkins are crowding under the row covers and i am wondering if it will be safe to remove them? I am concerned about the vine borers and hope they are done laying their eggs for the season.

Washington County Minnesota

3 Responses

Dear gardener,

All winter squash including pumpkins need to be pollinated in order to develop fruit. If the borers are a severe problem, you may need to hand-pollinate the female flowers. There are instructions here: https://bonnieplants.com/2012/07/pollination-problems-give-hand-pollination-a-try/

Note that the male flowers usually open first. The female flowers are those with an elongated balloon-like organ just below the flower. All it takes a "tickle" using a Q-tip or pencil eraser: lightly touch the pollen, then tickle the female flower. You can do this each day for a few days, and replace the row cover after each treatment.

Thank Lynne for that info but i doesn't answer my question. I just want to know if the Vine Bore season is done and my pumpkins will be safe if I remove the row covers?

Thank You

Dear Gardener,

My apologies. I think this explanation of the borer's life cycle may be helpful: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/squash-vine-borers/ I would suggest leaving the row covers on as long as possible.

I came across this recommendation from OMAFRA which may also be helpful:

Management Options

Destroy eggs before they hatch. When vines wilt and the holes of the borer are noticed, slit stem lengthwise and remove borer. Mound soil over injured area and over vines near leaves to promote new root growth from stems. The Butternut variety is resistant to the squash vine borer.

Best Regards,