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Growing Summer Squash by bestt571


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									                                                                                   Fact Sheet 472

  Growing Summer Squash
   As urban and suburban areas continue
to develop and consumer demand for fresh
vegetables remains strong, an opportunity              The many types of summer squash range
exists for vegetable growers to grow and sell       from straightneck to zucchini to gourmet
produce through various market outlets.             scallopini. They are usually divided into
Summer squash may fit into the production           crookneck, straightneck, scallop, and zuc-
systems for many of these growers. Many             chini types, although some new types do not
health-conscious consumers prefer locally           fit well into these groupings. Test new types
grown fresh produce as part of their diets.         on a small scale to determine market accep-
   Summer squash, as a member of the cucur-         tance. Some recommended varieties are listed
                                                    in Table 1.
bit family, are eaten at an immature stage.
The fruit of summer squash is low in calories
and has a wide range of tastes and uses. Most
varieties produce marketable fruit within                    Preparing the Soil
eight weeks of planting and bear as long              Summer squash will grow in any well-
as the fruit are continually picked and the         drained soil with good organic matter con-
plants are not damaged by diseases or insects.      tent (at least 1.5 percent). Before planting,
Harvested fruits are highly perishable and          have the soil tested at the University of
must be marketed immediately.

Table 1. Recommended hybrid varieties.
Variety (from earliest to latest within category)
    Crookneck Type
    Straightneck Type
         Seneca Prolific
         General Patton
    Scallop Type
         Peter Pan (green)
         Sunburst (golden)
    Zucchini Type
         Zucchini Elite
         Seneca Zucchini
         Blondie (pale yellow)
         Gold Rush (golden)
Maryland Soil Testing Lab to determine rec-               Keep in mind that boron must be broad-
ommended amounts of fertilizer and lime.                cast and incorporated before planting to
Soil test information and containers are                avoid toxicity problems.
available from local Maryland Cooperative
Extension offices.
   Soil pH should range from 6.0 to 6.5.                                 Planting
Because squash are sensitive to acid soils, lim-           Squash is a warm weather crop and should
ing is recommended for soil pH below 6.0.               be planted when all danger of frost is past
   In the absence of a soil test, broadcast and         and the soil is warm–at least 55°F in the top
incorporate 500 pounds of 10-10-10 and one              3 inches of soil (April 15 through August 15).
pound of boron per acre before planting.                Plant 4 to 6 pounds of seed per acre in rows 5
Sidedress with 500 pounds of 10-10-10 per               to 6 feet apart with plants 2 to 3 feet apart in
acre when the vines start to run.                       the row.
   If it is possible to apply fertilizer through           Most seed has been treated with a fungicide
a sprinkler irrigation system, broadcast and            and an insecticide by the seed producer. If the
incorporate 500 pounds of 5-10-10 and one               squash is to be grown organically, be sure to
pound of boron per acre before planting,                specify untreated seed at the time the order is
sidedress 500 pounds of 10-10-10 per acre               placed. Untreated seed can be treated at plant-
when the vines start to run, and then apply             ing time, if desired, using a mixture of thiram
25 pounds of nitrogen per acre through the              and an approved commercially available
                                                        insecticide following label directions.
irrigation system as the plants come into full
production.                                                Summer squash is usually direct seeded. For
                                                        planting into plastic or paper mulches, use
   If fertilizer is to be injected into a trickle
                                                        2- to 3-week-old transplants grown in peat
system under plastic mulch, broadcast and               pellets, containers, or cell-trays. Transplants
incorporate 1,000 pounds of 5-10-10 and one             should have good root systems. Minimize
pound of boron per acre before the plastic              root disturbance as much as possible to
is laid. Then apply 25 to 50 pounds per acre            reduce transplant shock. Begin planting when
total (5 to 7 pounds per application) of nitro-         the average daytime temperature has reached
gen through the trickle irrigation system.              a minimum of 60°F and night temperatures
                                                                are no lower than 45°F (usually about
                                                                          April 15 to May 1). Protect

Table 2. Identification and control of insects.*
Pest           Description         Damage                  Action Level            Treatment
Aphids       Tiny, soft-bodied;   Leaves curl under As needed every 5 to          Reflective mulches.
             yellow-green to      and turn brown;   7 days, especially for        Diazinon 4EC, or
             black; on under-     aphids may carry late season crop.              Metasystox-R 2SC, or
             sides of leaves.     virus diseases.                                 Thiodan 3EC.
                                                                                  Lannate LV (melon aphid
Cucumber     Yellow to green;     Feed on young                          Adios, or Asana XL, or
                                                          When feeding dam-
Beetles      1/4 inch long;       leaves and flow-        age is heavy onLannate LV, or methoxy-
             black spots or       ers; can carry bac-                    chlor 50WP, or Sevin
                                                          young plants or if
             stripes.             terial wilt disease.                   80S**, or Thiodan 3EC.
                                                          adult beetles are
                                                                         Begin when seedlings
                                                          abundant and dis-
                                                                         emerge and repeat every 7
                                                          ease has occurred.
                                                                         days until flowering if new
                                                                         beetles continue to invade
                                                                         fields. Check current
                                                                         EB 236 for use of Admire.
Spider       Very tiny, spider- Tiny whitish      When 10-15% of         Agri-Mek 0.15EC, or
Mites        like; on under-    specks on leaves; crown leaves infested Kelthane 50WP. Spot treat
             sides of leaves; then browning.      early in the season or localized infestations.
             favored by hot,                      when 50% of terminal
             dry weather.                         leaves infested.
Squash     Larvae are thick,      Sudden wilting          When vines begin to     Exclude insects with row
Vine Borer white, wrinkled        of plants; yellow       run, apply to base of   covers. Asana XL 0.66EC,
           with brown head,       frass at base of        plants.                 or methoxychlor 50WP,
           one inch long;         stems; rotting of                               or Thiodan 3EC. Apply 4
           adults are clear-      damaged stems.                                  times at 7-day intervals.
           wing moths.
Squash       Adults are       Leaves brown,               Every 7 to 10 days    Asana XL 0.66EC, or
Bug          flat, brownish,  wilt.                       as needed after vines Sevin 80S.**
             5/8 inch long;                               begin to run.
             nymphs are
             smaller, gray/
             green, no wings.

* Before bloom, consider using floating row covers to exclude insects.
**Continuous use of Sevin or pyrethroids may cause mite outbreaks.

early plantings from wind by using hot caps                have been obtained from plants growing on
or row covers.                                             blue plastic, but this type is less readily avail-
                                                           able. If plastic mulches are to be used, some
Plastic Mulches                                            fertilizer must be applied (unless injection
  Plastic mulches of 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 mil thick-             through a trickle system is possible) and soil
ness are now being used by producers for a                 must be moist prior to laying the plastic.
number of vegetable crops. They generally                  Using plastic mulches without any irrigation
offer earlier yield and greater total yield, and           is not recommended.
black types will control weeds in the row.                    Clear plastic gives some advantage over black
Highest marketable yields of summer squash                 in soil warming and early yield, but a fumigant

such as Vapam will be needed since weeds grow           for restrictions on planting a later crop. The
vigorously under clear plastic. There is no need        following herbicides are currently labeled
to fumigate under black plastic.                        for summer squash grown without plastic
   Plastic mulches that are 48 inches wide are          mulch:
preferred. Lay them in rows on 5- to 6-foot
centers. Be sure the edges are completely bur-          Preplant Incorporated or Preemergence
ied to prevent wind from pulling the mulch                 Apply 5 to 6 quarts per acre of Prefar 4EC.
loose. Raised beds are more productive than             Incorporate 2 inches deep or less before seed-
flat beds. Herbicides can be used to control            ing or transplanting, or apply preemergence
weeds between the plastic strips if applied             and activate with 1.5 to 1 inch of irrigation
carefully before planting. Check Extension              immediately after seeding. Prefar is effec-
Bulletin (EB) 236, “Commercial Vegetable                tive on grasses but weak on many broadleaf
Production Recommendations” for more                    weeds. Check the label for crops that can be
detailed information.                                   planted after use of Prefar.
                                                           Apply 4 to 6 fluid ounces per acre of
Irrigation                                              Command 4EC to control annual grasses
   Irrigate shortly after planting if the soil is       and broadleaf weeds. The rate will depend
dry. Squash will require about 1 inch of water          on soil type. Preplant incorporation reduces
per week, either through rainfall or irrigation,        the chance of vapor drift but increases risk
especially during bud development and flow-             of crop injury. The injury will appear as a
ering. Trickle irrigation systems should be used        partial whitening of leaf or stem tissue.
under plastic mulches when either fertilizers           Minor injury is temporary and com-
or pesticides are to be applied in irrigation           plete recovery should occur with-
water.                                                  out affecting yield or earliness.
                                                        WARNING: Command vapor
                                                        or spray drift may injure
 Pest Management
   Good cultural practices
and careful use of pesti-
cides can help reduce
losses from weeds,
insects, and dis-
eases. Be sure to
check a current
revision of EB
236 for the
most recent
dations. Read
and follow
directions on
all pesticide

   Weed pressure can be
reduced through the use
of mulches (organic or plas-
tic), cultivation, and herbicides.
If herbicides are used, check the label

plants up to several hundred yards away                are often readily available and relatively easy
from application. Do not use Command                   to apply. Direct-seed through the mulch for
near sensitive plants or if drift will carry           maximum virus protection. Rotations with
the material onto sensitive plants. See label          noncucurbit crops are always recommended.
for complete precautions.                              Some growers have successfully used float-
                                                       ing row covers to keep insects from infesting
Preemergence                                           the squash. At flowering, the covers must be
   Apply 1.5 to 2 pints per acre of Curbit 3E          removed for pollination to occur.
to control annual grasses and certain broad-             Table 2 lists the most common insect prob-
leaf weeds including carpetweed and some               lems for squash and cultural and chemical
pigweed species. Control of many other                 recommendations for control. Also consult
broadleaf weeds might not be acceptable. Dry           EB 236 for further information.
weather following application can reduce
effectiveness. Cultivate to control emerged            Diseases
weeds if rainfall or irrigation does not occur
before emergence of weeds.                                A good insect management program is
                                                       essential for controlling viruses and bacte-
                                                       rial wilt, two of the most common diseases
                                                       of summer squash. Other diseases, such as
  Apply 1.6 pints per acre Gramoxone                   downy mildew and powdery mildew, usually
  Extra 2.5SC as a directed spray between              occur in late season. A fungicide program will
         the rows after crop establishment             help control these diseases.
           to control emerged weeds. Do
                                                          Use resistant varieties, when available, to
            not allow spray or spray drift
                                                       reduce disease problems. Good cultural prac-
             to contact the crop. Use low
                                                       tices will also help. For assistance in identify-
            pressure and shields to pre-
                                                       ing and controlling squash disease, contact
               vent spray contact with the
                                                       your local Cooperative Extension office. Also
                                                       consult EB 236 for current recommendations.
                      Apply 1 to 1.5 pints per
                                                          There are a number of viruses that can
                    acre Poast 1.5EC to con-
                                                       affect summer squash. Infected plants are
                    trol annual grasses and
                                                       stunted, and new leaves are often dwarfed,
                    certain perennial grasses.
                                                       mottled (patterned yellow and green), distort-
                     Oil concentrate can be
                                                       ed, and angular. Fruit may also be mottled,
                     used according to label
                                                       distorted, and unmarketable.
                     directions to enhance
                     activity.                            Viruses are carried by insects, chiefly
                                                       aphids, from weeds and from other infected
                                                       plants. To control viruses:
                    Insects                                • Use resistant varieties when possible.
                      Inspect fields regularly               The yellow-fruited variety Multipik
                 for insects that can reduce                 will not turn green when infected with
               squash yields and quality.                    watermelon or cucumber mosaic virus.
             Always identify the insect before               However, it will show symptoms of
           deciding on the proper measure                    infection from papaya ring spot or zuc-
         for control. Contact your local                     chini yellow mosaic viruses.
             Cooperative Extension office for              • Practice strict aphid control for early sea-
                help in identifying and con-                 son crops.
                 trolling insects.                         • Plant late season crops (after July 1) as
                    Reflective (silver or metal-             far as possible from existing squash and
                   ized silver) mulches can be               pumpkin plantings.
                   used to control weeds and               • Use reflective mulch.
                   repel aphids that trans-               Bacterial wilt overwinters in the gut of
                   mit viruses in fall-planted         cucumber beetles and is transferred to young
                   squash; these mulches               plants during early season feeding. As the

plants mature, however, they become less              Straightneck and zucchini types should
susceptible to the disease. Control cucum-            be about 6 to 8 inches long. Using a slight
ber beetles (Table 2) before they feed on the         twist, gently break the squash from the
young plants. Older plants probably will not          plants or carefully cut with a sharp knife.
need continued treatments.                            Leave stems attached and neatly trim them
   Check fields for downy and powdery mil-            later for market. Remove over-mature cull
dew beginning in mid-July. Begin fungicide            fruit from the plants to maintain maximum
sprays for downy mildew when the canopy               production. These can be left in the field.
closes (plants touch each other) or if the dis-          Summer squash are highly perishable
ease is observed. Downy mildew begins as              since the skin is tender and easily wounded
yellow spots on the leaves, which eventually          in handling. They can only be stored for a
turn brown, with a fine, gray downy growth            few days without rapid deteriora-
on the undersurface. The leaf edges brown             tion. It is possible to hold them
and turn inward as the leaf dies.                     for up to four days if they are
   Treat for powdery mildew when one lesion           kept at 32 to 40°F and 90 per-
is found on the underside of each of 45 older         cent relative humidity.
leaves. The disease begins as pale yellow spots          Hand pick summer
that become covered with powdery, white               squash daily during
spores.                                               the peak harvest
   Consult EB 236 for effective spray sched-          period. Handle                            them
ules that will also help to delay the develop-        carefully                                and
ment of fungicide resistance.                         market                                  the
   Honeybees are essential for good
fruit set. It may be necessary to
rent hives (one hive per acre) to
ensure adequate pollination
of squash. If insecticides
must be used during
bloom, apply them in
the evening when
fewer bees are
working. Many
insecticides are                                                                    Marketing
quite toxic to                                                                        Summer
honeybees.                                                                         squash are
                                                                                   prolific and
                                                                                  relatively easy to
                                                                                 grow. The same
                                                                                management prac-
                                                                              tices are used for the
                                                                             many types available.
                                                                           They can be a profit-
                                                                         able direct-market crop,
                                                                       but keep in mind that they
Harvesting                                                         must be managed properly.
   For best qual-                                               Harvest time for peak quality is
ity summer squash,                                          short, summer squash are perishable,
harvest when fruit                                    and they are easily damaged.
are young and ten-                    der.

Costs and Returns                                          Mention of trade names does not con-
   A sample budget for growing costs is
shown in Table 3, “Costs and Returns.”
Actual costs vary with each operation.
Charges for grading, sorting, and hauling              stitute an endorsement by Maryland
are not included. To determine total costs,
remember to add the fixed costs for land and
   The use of plastic mulches and drip irriga-         Cooperative Extension.
tion systems will raise initial costs substan-
tially, but increased returns from greater yield
and high quality should offset this expense.
Income will depend on the quantity of
squash produced and the price at which it is

Table 3. Costs and returns.
Yield and Price Assumptions
  Yield (1/2 bu)                          Price (1/2 bu)
                          $1.50               $5.50                  $10.00
  1000                    1,500               5,500                  10,000
  1200                    1,800               6,600                  12,000
  1400                    2,100               7,700                  14,000

Estimated Costs per Acre
Material                                                      Cost/acre
Cover crop seed (2 bu rye seed)                                   23.00
Lime (1,000 lb/A limestone-bagged)                               119.00
Fertilizer (bagged)
         500 lb 10-10-10                                          59.50
         500 lb 5-10-10                                           54.50
         75 lb ammonium nitrate                                   16.00
         7 lb fertilizer borate                                    1.80
Seed (4 lb x 67.00)                                              268.00
Herbicides                                                        96.00
Insecticides                                                      66.00
Harvest labor (200 hours @ 7.50)                                1,500.00
Boxes (1200 @ 1.00, waxed)                                      1,200.00
Total cash costs                                                3,403.80

Note: Add in labor costs for sorting, marketing, and transportation and fixed costs for land and equip-
ment to get the total costs.

                                                         Growing Summer Squash
                                                                        Revised by:
                                                                      Pamela B. King
                                                                     Extension Agent,
                                                               Maryland Cooperative Extension

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of Maryland, College
Park, and local governments. Thomas A. Fretz, Director of Maryland Cooperative Extension, University of Maryland.
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Title IX of the Educational Amendments; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990; or related legal requirements should be
directed to the Director of Personnel/Human Relations, Office of the Dean, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Symons Hall, College Park, MD 20742.



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