Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / John T. Woeste, Dean
Squash is produced commercially in all areas of
Florida with exception of the Everglades. The
southeast part of the state is the major production
area. Squash is harvested from early September to
In the 1982-83 season, summer squash was
harvested on 16,700 acres with an average yield of
179 bushels per acre. The average free-on-board
(f.o.b.) price was $11.12 per bushel.
This guide presents general recommendations for
the production of squash in Florida. Modification
may be necessary as improved practices are
developed through research and experience.
North Florida: Feb. April; Aug. Sept.
Central Florida: Jan. April; Aug. Sept.
South Florida: Aug. March
Distance between rows (ft) 3-4 5-9
Distance between plants (ft) 1-2 3-5
Seed depth (in) 1-1.5 1.5-2
Seed required (Ib/acre) 2-3 1-1.5
Time to maturity (days) 40-50 85-120
Trials are conducted to evaluate new releases and
other cultivars under Florida conditions. Those listed
on page 2 have been consistent in production in one
or more locations. This listing does not imply that
other cultivars are not adapted to Florida.
Seed is usually treated by seedsmen for control
of soil insects and diseases before it is offered for sale.
Any untreated seed should be treated before use.
Contact your local extension service for recom-
Placement. Usually the basic fertilizer is placed
in bands from 2 to 3 inches to the side and below the
seed. This practice is acceptable where soluble salt
injury is not anticipated or where a large basic ap-
plication of phosphorus (P) is needed. If soluble salt
injury is anticipated, a broadcast application should
be used for part or all of the basic application before
Timing. The basic application may be applied
before planting, during planting, or shortly after
planting; or any of these may be combined for split
applications. Supplemental fertilizer should be ap-
plied whenever needed during the growing season
and especially after heavy leaching rains. If squash
is grown as a double crop behind a crop produced on
full-bed plastic mulch, additional nitrogen (N) and
potassium (K) will need to be supplied.
Soil pH. Optimum range for squash production
is between 6.0 and 6.5. Where magnesium (Mg) levels
are low, use dolomitic limestone or include
magnesium in the basic fertilizer.
Micronutrients. In the absence of previous history
and experience, on mineral soils, a general guide for
adequate micronutrients is the addition of 5 pounds
of manganese (Mn), 3 pounds of copper (Cu), 4 pounds
of iron (Fe), 3 pounds of zinc (Zn), and 1.5 pounds of
boron (B) per acre. These micronutrients can be ob-
tained from mixtures of oxides, sulfates or chelates.
In certain soils, such as the high pH marl and
rockland soils, higher rates of the minor elements
may be necessary to overcome their tendency to be
tied up and unavailable for plant growth.
*S. M. Olson and M. Sherman are Assistant Professors, Vegetable Crops Department, IFAS, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.
UNIVERS.~ i~r .1
S. M. Olson and M. Sherman*
Summer Squash (Harvested Immature)
/ 0 ( Cracker
YF3 Golden Rebel
i LA C Lemondrop
Burpee Hybrid Zucchini
- Hybrid, bright yellow fruit with semi-crookneck.
- Hybrid, bright lemon yellow fruit with slight crookneck.
- Hybrid crookneck, yellow fruit.
- Hybrid crookneck, bright yellow fruit.
- Hybrid crookneck, buttery golden yellow fruit.
- Hybrid straightneck, golden yellow fruit.
- Hybrid straightneck, bright lemon yellow fruit.
- Hybrid straightneck, glossy yellow fruit. Fruit stem is yellow. Fruit seems to
resist greening caused by cucumber mosaic virus, but plants are not resis-
tant to mosaic. Multipik has a precocious yellow gene that gives it the above
- Hybrid straightneck, bright yellow fruit.
- Hybrid straightneck, creamy yellow fruit.
- Hybrid straightneck, bright yellow color.
- Fruit is cylindrical, shiny and medium-green.
- Hybrid, fruit is nearly cylindrical, slim and medium-green.
- Hybrid zucchini, shape is good and fruit medium-green.
- Hybrid zucchini, shape is long, straight and cylindrical. Fruit color is bright,
shiny black-green with moderate speckling.
- Hybrid zucchini, fruit is cylindrical and of a glossy medium dark green color.
- Hybrid, fruit is cylindrical and medium-green.
Winter Squash (Harvested Mature)
- Selection of Table Queen with larger fruit, but later fruit is dark green and
flesh is thick and excellent for baking.
- Hybrid acorn, earlier than Table Queen. Compact vine and fruit is dark green
to jet black.
- Large sized butternut, thick neck, blocky shape. Excellent flavor and texture,
- Butternut type with fruit smaller than Waltham. Good quality with compact
- Butternut type, long storage, quality good, vine very vigorous.
- A calabaza, pumpkin-like, good quality, vine very vigorous.
- A calabaza.
- Large pumpkin 20-25 pounds. Orange skin and orange-yellow flesh, vigorous
vine growth. It is suited for carving and pies.
- Hybrid pumpkin, very early, semi-bush plant type, fruit 12-14 pounds with
bright orange skin and thick bright yellow flesh. Good for carving and pies.
- Favorite pie pumpkin. Fruits are small, 6 to 8 pounds. Skin is deep orange
with orange flesh of very good quality.
- Hybrid pumpkin, all-American selection. Plant habit is compact semi-bush.
Early, with fruit size of 12-14 pounds. Fruit has bright yellow and thick skin.
It is suited for carving and pies.
Fertilizer Rates and Use
Basic Application Supplemental Applications
Total: Each Application:
Soil lb./acre1 N-P205-K20 lb./acre N-P205-K20 Number of Applications
Mineral Soils2 90-120-120 30-0-30 1-3
Mineral Soils2 60-80-80 30-0-30 0-2
Marl Soils 45-60-60 30-0-30 0-2
Rockland Soils 45-60-60 30-30-30 0-2
'Amounts of N-P20O-K20 suggested here should be reduced proportionately when soil test show residuals in the soils.
'Includes all mineral soils (except marl and rockland).
Pests of Squash
Nematodes. Squash is susceptible to rootknot and
sting nematodes. Planting in infested soils should be
avoided whenever possible since crop loss could
occur. Fallow cultivation, crop rotations and flooding
are possible means of controlling nematodes. If soils
heavily infested or suspected to be infested with
plant parasitic nematodes must be used, they should
be treated as suggested in the Florida Extension
Nematode Control Guide.
Symptoms of nematode problems may include
stunted plants, chlorotic foliage, or plants that wilt
even when adequate soil moisture is present. The root
systems may be stubby or galled and may have
brown or colorless lesions.
Insects. Insect control is an important economic
consideration in squash production. Control of most
insect pests of squash is through use of insecticides.
Choice of chemical and timing of application should
be based on periodic scouting of the fields to iden-
tify the pest and determine whether damage war-
rants pesticide application. Late season crops may
need a preventative program for some pests, espe-
cially pickleworm, melonworm, and vine borer. In ad-
dition to these insect pests, squash may also have
economic damage caused by leafminers, aphids,
cucumber beetles, squashbugs, cutworms, mole
crickets, and wireworms.
For specific information on insect identification
and control, consult your county extension office.
Diseases. Diseases that may cause economic
damage to squash include angular leaf spot, downy
mildew, gummy stem blight, powdery mildew, wet
rot (blossom blight), and aphid transmitted mosaic
viruses. Viruses are transmitted by aphids from a
number of weed hosts. Elimination of weeds around
the field before planting will help in reducing losses
from this disease.
Prevention and control of the diseases caused by
these pathogens vary widely, and accurate identifica-
tion is needed for proper selection of control
measures. Preventatives include use of certified
treated seed, use of fungicides or bacteriacides at the
proper rates and timing, and use of cultural practices
that reduce disease buildup and spread.
For specific information on identification and con-
trol of these diseases, consult your county extension
agent and several Plant Pathology fact sheets (PP-2,
Downy Mildew of Cucurbits; PP-11, Wet Rot; and
PP-14, Powdery Mildew of Vegetables).
Weeds. Weed pests in squash vary with location
in the state, time of year planted, crop rotation pat-
terns, and herbicide selectivity. Herbicide choices for
squash are few and include preplant and
postemergence herbicides. To obtain adequate con-
trol, a combination of cultural, mechanical and
chemical means is advisable. In order to select the
proper herbicides, the weed species prevalent in the
field should be known well in advance of planting.
Weed control recommendations can be found in Cir-
cular 196, Weed Control for Commercial Vegetable
Production in Florida, or obtained through your
county extension agent.
Pollination. Bees are necessary for pollination of
squash. Good pollination improves set, shape and
size of fruit. Use at least one hive of honey bees for
every three to five acres of squash. Position the hives
in the field so that bees will not have to travel more
than a few hundred feet to forage.
Select pesticides that will do the least damage to
the bees and apply in late afternoon when bee activ-
ity is low and many flowers are closed.
Harvesting and Handling
Botanically, the marketable portion of squash is
the fruit. Summer squash is harvested while the fruit
is immature, and winter squash is harvested.when
the fruit is mature. This maturity difference accounts
for the greater perishability of the summer squash.
Harvesting. All squash is harvested by hand.
Summer squashes are ready to harvest as soon as the
fruit reach edible size. All summer squashes should
have shiny skins and small, undeveloped seeds. The
yellow squash, crookneck, and straightnecks are
harvested when fruit are 4 to 6 inches long with
smooth or lightly wanted skin. Zucchini squash is
harvested when fruit are 5 to 8 inches long with
smooth cylindrical shape and dark green skin color.
Scallop or pattypan squash is usually harvested
when fruit are 3 to 5 inches in diameter and the skin
is light green to white in color. Pickers cut or break
squash fruit from the plant, preferably with a short
piece of stem attached. Skins of summer squash are
extremely soft and delicate. Pickers should wear
gloves to prevent fingernail punctures and scratches.
Picking containers should be clean and free from sand
and other abrasive surfaces. Cut, abraded, and bruis-
ed areas on the squash surfaces darken during subse-
quent marketing and seriously detract from ap-
pearance and increase water loss.
Winter squashes are harvested in a mature state,
which includes an external color characteristic of the
variety, a hard rind, and mature seeds. Fully mature
acorn squash should have a small amount of
yellowish-orange color on the dark-green surface.
Butternut squash should be fully tan or buff colored
without any greenish undercolor.
Packing. Squash can be either field packed or shed
packed. Field packing offers several advantages over
a packinghouse operation: 1) it involves less capital
investment; 2) culls are left in the field, which
eliminates the time and energy costs associated with
transporting them from the field, and 3) the product
is handled less, which minimizes damage and max-
imizes marketable yields.
Whether field or shed packed, most summer
squash are washed prior to packing. Wash water
should be chlorinated with 75 ppm free chlorine to
kill decay-causing organisms, and squash should not
be allowed to remain in water dump tanks for pro-
longed periods (more than 5 minutes). Dump tank
water must be changed daily. Winter squashes are
usually not washed prior to packing.
Grades. Grade standards describe the quality re-
quirements for each grade of commodity, giving the
industry a common language for buying and selling.
Shipping point inspection for grade certification is
available for most commodities. A copy of U.S.
grades can be obtained through your county exten-
United States standards for both summer squash
and winter squash specify two grades U.S. No. 1
and U.S. No. 2.
Containers. As part of a national movement to
standardize shipping containers for fresh fruit and
vegetables, shippers are urged to use a container with
one of the following outside length and width dimen-
sions: 23.6 x 15.7 inches; 19.7 x 15.7 inches; 19.7 x
11.8 inches; or 15.7 x 11.8 inches. Containers with
these outside dimensions maximize utilization of the
48-by-40-inch pallet or slipsheet surface and facilitate
Summer squash: A container with outside dimen-
sions of 19.7 inches long, 11.8 inches wide, and 11.8
inches deep is specifically suggested for summer
squash. During times of short supply when a smaller
container may be preferred, a container with outside
dimensions of 15.7 inches long, 11.8 inches wide, and
7.9 inches deep is specifically suggested. Most squash
are shipped in either a waxed carton or wirebound
Winter Squash: A container with outside dimen-
sions of 19.7 inches long, 11.8 inches wide, and 11.8
inches deep is specifically suggested for acorn and
butternut squash. Pumpkins are usually handled in
48-by-40-inch bins holding 1,000 to 2,000 pounds or
in bulk (truck) loads.
Labeling. The inadequate product identification
information currently found on shipping containers
causes many problems in the food distribution
system. It is recommended that 65 percent of the
space of at least two sides (preferably four sides) of
all shipping containers be used for product identifica-
tion information (commodity, size or count, cultivars,
weight, and grade). The remaining 35 percent should
be used for brand name, shipper, and address.
For the squash containers described above, it is
suggested that the minimum height of lettering for
size, count, cultivar, and commodity be 1 inch; for
origin, weight, and grade a minimum letter size of
0.5 inch is suggested.
Cooling. The very perishable nature of summer
squash makes prompt, thorough cooling soon after
harvest desirable. For maximum shelf-life, summer
squash should be cooled to 40 F soon after harvest.
Field heat can be satisfactorily removed from squash
by hydrocooling or forced-air cooling. Winter squash
is less perishable and is generally not cooled.
Both summer and winter squashes are suscepti-
ble to chilling injury. Therefore, temperatures below
the optimum for shipping and storage should be
Shipping and Storage Conditions. Summer
squash: Optimum transit and storage conditions are
a temperature of 40-42 F and a relative humidity of
95 percent. Under these conditions squash should
keep two weeks in good condition.
Winter squash: Mature winter squashes keep well
at temperatures between 50 and 55 F and relative
humidities from 50 to 75 percent. Under these con-
ditions a minimum shelflife of five to eight weeks can
Reprinted August 1990
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES, John T
Woeste, director, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, publishes this information to further the purpose of the
May 8 and June 30, 1914 Acts of Congress; and is authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to
individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin. Single copies of extension
publications (excluding 4-H and youth publications) are available free to Florida residents from county extension offices. Information on bulk
rates or copies for out-of-state purchasers is available from C.M. Hinton, Publications Distribution Center, IFAS Building 664, University of
Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611. Before publicizing this publication, editors should contact this address to determine availability.