AMES, Iowa — The arrival of autumn also means the arrival of winter squash at the grocery shop, farmers current market and in the house garden. Winter season squash are well-known and balanced vegetables offering nutritional vitamins A and C as effectively as fiber. In this posting, horticulturists with Iowa Condition College Extension and Outreach solution frequently asked issues about wintertime squash in the home back garden.

What are winter season squash?

Wintertime squash are associates of the cucurbit family, which consists of squash, gourds, melons and cucumbers. They are warm-period greens that develop extensive sprawling vines with fruit that normally matures late in the escalating period. Contrary to summer squash which are harvested and employed immature, winter season squash are harvested when the fruit completely matures and most can be very easily stored for considerably of the winter season.

The phrase “winter squash” describes versions of a number of different edible squash species. Acorn, delicata and spaghetti squash versions are from the Cucurbita pepo species. Cucurbita moschata includes the butternut kinds. Quite a few other winter squash belong to the Cucurbita maxima species including Hubbard, kabocha, buttercup and turban squash.

What is the proper way to harvest and keep wintertime squash?

Harvest wintertime squash when the fruit are thoroughly experienced. Mature wintertime squash have extremely tricky skins that cannot be punctured with the thumbnail and have dull-looking surfaces. Ideally, go away the squash on the vine until eventually entirely ripe. It can be tricky to ripen winter season squash when harvested. Whilst a light-weight frost might destroy the vines, it will not typically hurt the fruit, but be guaranteed to harvest winter squash right before a tricky freeze.

When harvesting winter season squash, take care of them carefully to steer clear of cuts and bruises. These accidents are not only unpleasant, but they also present entrances for numerous rot-generating organisms. Minimize the fruit off the vine with pruning shears. Go away a 1-inch stem on each fruit.

After harvesting, treatment winter squash (besides for the acorn sorts) at a temperature of 80 to 85 levels Fahrenheit and relative humidity of 80 to 85%. Curing can help to harden the squash skins and heal any cuts and scratches. Do not cure acorn squash. The higher temperature and relative humidity throughout the curing approach reduces the high-quality and storage lifestyle of acorn squash.

Soon after curing, retail outlet winter season squash in a great, dry, perfectly-ventilated area. Storage temperatures need to be 50 to 55F. Place them in a solitary layer where by they really do not contact one particular one more. Do not pile squash as piling can reduce air circulation, market dampness build-up which encourages fungi and microbes and make extra warmth that will shorten the storage daily life. Do not retailer squash close to apples, pears or other ripening fruit. Ripening fruit release ethylene gas, which shortens the storage lifestyle of squash.

When correctly remedied and saved, the storage life of acorn, butternut and Hubbard squash are close to 5 to 8 months, 2 to 3 months and 5 to 6 months, respectively.

Will other squash or melons cross-pollinate with winter squash?

Winter squash belong to the exact genus (Cucurbita) as lots of other generally grown vegetables such as summer time squash, gourds, melons and cucumbers. Their flowers demand pollinators to carry pollen from male to female bouquets to kind fruit. Only pollen from the identical species of Cucurbita can pollinate woman bouquets and successfully create fruit. For instance, cross-pollination could occur among acorn squash and decorative gourds mainly because they are both of those in the species, Cucurbita pepo.  Even so, cross-pollination cannot transpire in between an acorn squash (C. pepo) and Hubbard squash (C. maxima), muskmelon (C. melo) or cucumber (C. sativus) mainly because they are distinctive species.

Even when cross-pollination occurs, the outcomes are not observed in the current season’s crop. The squash will continue to glimpse and taste like the squash described on the seed packet. However, if the seeds are saved and planted the next yr, all those plants will create fruit that will be diverse from possibly of the mom and dad, usually looking like a hybrid of the two.

Badly flavored squash, melons or cucumbers are generally thanks to unfavorable soil, moisture or weather ailments, not the consequence of cross-pollination.

Are pumpkins thought of winter squash?

Of course. “Pumpkin” is a typical phrase made use of to describe any wintertime squash that has a hard rind, is typically ribbed and around round in condition with orange to yellow (at times white) pores and skin. There are several species and kinds of wintertime squash that in shape this description. That indicates the common identify of pumpkin is used for numerous distinctive species of winter season squash.

Cucurbita pepo features discipline pumpkins generally used for jack-o-lanterns, as effectively as a lot of miniature and sugar or pie-kind pumpkins. Cucurbita maxima contains the flattened, deeply ribbed Cinderella-kind pumpkins as properly as the tremendous-sized pumpkins you see at the state reasonable. Several of the vibrant, and from time to time pumpkin-shaped, cushaw-kind squashes are in the species Cucurbita mixta.

I’ve listened to canned pumpkin is truly squash, is that real?

Indeed. Incredibly number of of the species and types of winter squash that glance like pumpkins (orange, ribbed, spherical) are employed for canned pumpkin puree. As an alternative, most canned pumpkin is in fact made from a species of squash that is not incredibly pumpkin-like.

The species of winter squash most generally related with the name pumpkin and utilised for jack-o-lanterns is Cucurbita pepo. When this species is edible, it is not utilised for canned pumpkin puree simply because it tends to be extra fibrous or stringy. The primary squash/pumpkin used for pumpkin puree is a range of Cucurbita moschata named ‘Dickinson’. This variety has a extra elongated condition than the regular pumpkin and is virtually the very same color as the closely linked butternut squash.

Shareable picture: Assortment of winter season squash.