Machinery and Equipment Guide

Home » Knowledge Center » Machinery and Equipment Guide

Machinery and equipment required for pumpkin production will vary by a grower’s preferred production method and operation size. The following discussion shares machinery and equipment needs for mechanized, commercial pumpkin production. It also approximates costs incurred from operating machinery. Depending on a grower’s operation size, expertise and previous machinery investments, the grower must determine whether to purchase and operate the equipment or engage a custom service provider.

Machinery and Equipment Needs

To grow pumpkins, producers must first choose a production system to adopt. The following table highlights the equipment needs for three systems: plasticulture, no-till and conventional models. Gray highlights indicate required equipment for each production system. Although the table assumes that producers adopt mechanization, hand labor may be advantageous for small-scale growers. For example, producers may opt for using a hoe and hand labor during planting instead of using a tractor and implements. Plasticulture production requires some unique equipment investments; however, producers may justify the expense because plasticulture systems typically yield twice as well as the alternatives. No-till systems require the fewest equipment and machinery investments.

Equipment and Machinery Needs for Pumpkin Production*

Plasticulture No-Till Conventional Tillage
Tractor X X X
Disk X X
Harrow X
Moldboard plow X
Disk harrow X
Cultivator X
Planter X
No-till planter X
Transplanter X
Mulch layer X
Boom sprayer X X X
Wagon X X X
* Assumes that fertilizer and lime applications are custom services – an estimated $6.15 per acre for spray liquid fertilizer and $18.55 per ton for delivering and spreading lime, including time – and don’t require equipment investments.
Owned and Operated Equipment or Custom Hire Services

Machine and equipment size and capacity will depend on operation scale and influence the related operating or custom hiring expenses. The following table compares projected costs for two scenarios. In the first, a grower owns and operates equipment. In the second, a grower hires a custom service provider to carry out equipment-related work. The machinery costs are meant to represent total costs incurred for operating equipment.

Estimated Machinery Costs and Custom Rates, Per Acre Unless Noted

Machinery Cost Custom Rate
Disk $13.68 $15.11
Harrow $8.83
Moldboard plow $28.07 $17.73
Disk harrow $7.85 $10.63
Cultivator $8.07 $15.20
Planter $12.89 $14.07
No-till planter $15.07 $16.53
Transplanter $86.30
Mulch layer $71.85
Boom sprayer $4.20 $6.15
Wagon $0.17/100 pounds $0.20/100 pounds

Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics. 2012. Machinery Cost Estimates: Summary. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Urbana, IL 61801.

Edwards, William, Ann Johanns and Jordan Neighbor. 2014. 2014 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey. Iowa State University. Ames, IA 50011.

Lazarus, William F. 2014. Machinery Cost Estimates. University of Minnesota Extension. St. Paul, MN 55108.

Marr, Charles, Terry Schaplowsky and Ted Carey. 2004. Pumpkins. Kansas State University. Manhattan, KS 66506.

Orzolek, Michael D., Timothy E. Elkner, William J. Lamont Jr., Lynn F. Kime and Jayson K. Harper. 2012. Pumpkin Production. Penn State Extension. University Park, PA 16802.

Plain, Ronald L. and Joyce White. 2012. 2012 Custom Rates for Farm Services in Missouri. University of Missouri Extension. Columbia, MO 65211.

Stiles, Scott and Terry Griffin. n.d. Estimating Farm Machinery Costs. University of Arkansas. Little Rock, AR 72204.

UMass Extension. 2000. Pumpkin Budget Sheet. University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA 01003.