Winter squash can be stored in good condition for months. Squash going into storage should be fully matured, and free from injury or decay. If the squash was not fully hardened in the field, a 10-20 day curing period at 80-85º F. has shown to extend long-term storage. An empty greenhouse is an easy location to cure your winter squash. After curing, all squash should be held at 55-60º F. and at 50-75% humidity. Chilling injury occurs any time the temperatures fall below 55º F. Chilling injury increases as temperatures decrease and/or length of chilling time increases. Squash should be stored away from ethylene producers such as apples or pears since the squash will turn off-color, become stringy and decay. Keep your vegetables dry and maintain good air circulation for long term storage.
Winter Squash are so named because they take much longer to mature and are great for long-term storage. When stored in a cool, dry space, they will last for months. The skins are hard, the flesh is usually yellow or orange, and the large seeds are delicious when roasted. Winter squash comes in all shapes and sizes, from the small, rounded acorn to the bell-shaped butternut to the large, warted Hubbard. Many winter squash have long, trailing vines that require a large area for growing, although recent developments have produced a number of bush varieties for small spaces.
Fresh Market Grower TipsThere is a wondrous diversity of squash types available now for pick-your-own, roadside and local fresh market growers. They range from yellow and green bush summer squashes through the bush and semi-vining acorns to the long-vined butternuts and large winter squashes. Some are used immediately as mini-vegetables and hors d’oeuvres while others are storage types.
CultureAny well-drained fertile soil will grow squash with the proper management. As a group, they are warm weather crops quite sensitive to cold temperatures, so wait for warm soil to plant. Planting pattern and area covered will depend on the bush/vining plant habit of the particular varieties you choose to grow. Plastic mulch can be used to raise soil temperature, conserve moisture and control weeds. Use supplemental water if plants start to wilt and add bees for pollination. Finally, harvest carefully at peak maturity to avoid declining quality. Those winter types that will store well are best held at 50-55° F. and50-75% relative humidity with good air circulation. Maturities are from field seeding and are intended for comparison only.
Average Seed Count:
Small: 30 per packet; 4,500/Lb.
Large: 30 per packet; 2,000/Lb.