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Seminar: Kim Heagy: Cultural Management Practices for Maximizing and Predicting Pumpkin Yield

April 7, 2023 | 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Cultural Management Practices for Maximizing and Predicting Pumpkin Yield
Kim Heagy, MS Seminar
Friday, April 7, 2023, 1:00 pm
(Under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Schultheis, Chair)

Location (Hybrid): 121 Kilgore Hall
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 949 6108 0323
Passcode: 059201

Pumpkins grown in North Carolina are a nascent specialty crop, only rising to a national production level in the last ten years. There are only general cultural management guidelines for this region, which creates variation in plant density and inefficient production. Adding to this, harvested pumpkins are sorted based on unstandardized fruit sizes and packed into corresponding bin categories of MediumLargeExtra-Large, and Jumbo. In precision agriculture, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) and object detection models are emerging resources for growers to collect aerial crop images to translate into meaningful information. These systems can be used to estimate fruit yield; however, accuracy of these models is not well understood for pumpkins. Multiple studies were conducted to streamline pumpkin yield through evaluating plant density, standardizing bin categories, and assessing the accuracy of drone image yield prediction. Plant densities of 2691, 3588, 5382, and 10764 plants per hectare demonstrated that as density increases, fruit size decreases while yield per area increases. For bin categories, fruit from commercial bins were evaluated to create fruit size diameter standards of Medium: 23.5 – 26.8 cm, Large: 26.9 – 29.9 cm, Extra-Large: 30 – 33.6 cm, and Jumbo: 33.7 -35.5 cm. Combining these data sets, a partial budget analysis revealed that the highest profiting density is 10764 plants per hectare profiting $36,890 producing 305 bins of Extra-Large pumpkins. Finally, drone images and the detection model Solvi Ag Solutions were evaluated for counting and measuring pumpkins. Counting was highly accurate with an overall accuracy of 99%. The model overestimated the diameter measurement by an average of 1.1 cm. These studies provide resources for pumpkin growers to maximize their yield through efficient plant density and targeted bin categories as well as predict their yield through drone methods.


April 7, 2023
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Rachel McLaughlin
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