Early harvesting Red Kuri squash?

steve22802(7a VA)August 2, 2013

This is my first year growing Red Kuri winter squash. Other years I've just grown butternut which I leave on the vine until the end of the season (mid October here.) Some of the Red Kuris have already turned a nice bright red color. Are they ripe already? Will the flavor be good at this stage or does it improve if they are left for several months longer on the vine? If it is ok to harvest them now, will harvesting them as they turn bright red encourage the vines to produce more giving me a larger crop?

Thanks,
Steve

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Red Kuri is one of our personal favorites - beautiful and very tasty. But like all other winter squash the best results come from leaving them on the vine until the vines begin to die off and the stems are well dried and hard.

But yes you can harvest one early if you wish or if it gets broken off etc and it is edible. The taste isn't as well developed we find, not as nutty or mellow, more sharp.

Does harvesting encourage new production? Yes, depending on how many you harvest early. If the plant is healthy and sufficient nutrients are provided it may set more fruit. But I find that the later fruit are much smaller and few in number so I prefer to let the plant focus on its primary production for quality.

Dave

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 11:24AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

In the Fresno area, they harvest some kabocha squash for export to Japan in June. In my garden, winter squash not in the butternut family die off before fall. So a lot depends on your particular circumstances and the health of the vines.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 2:46PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Red Kuri and all the squash of the maxima species are ripe when the stem turns a light tan and looks and feels like a dry cork. Like Dave suggests, i'd leave them on the vine as long as you can unless they need to come off for some other reason (frost, sunburn, critters eating them, etc).

For best flavor, they really should sit and cure for about a month after harvesting. I find them to hit their peak around December.

-Mark

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 10:10PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

If you pick them early, the taste will be a little watery rather than richer later in the year. Considering they are a very sweet squash to begin with, this isn't a huge problem.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 3:36AM
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JulieAN87

I'm a newby to red kuri and accidentally broke off a squash last weekend that was nearly ripe and baked it anyway. it was very good, but I could tell that in a few weeks it would have been even sweeter.

I'm leaving the rest alone till they are ready!

Mark says to cure the squash for a month to fully cure after picking. What is the best way to do that?

Julie

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 8:06PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Julie,
For all the maxima squash (kuri included) a little aging is all that's necessary. Keep them in a dry place, room temperature is fine, for about a month from harvest. Same goes for the pepo types.

It's the Moschata squash (butternut, LI cheese, black futsu...) that need special curing for best keeping and flavor.

-Mark

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 8:20PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Well, I have two squash from moschata vines that died off already, so I have to ask what special curing do they need?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 11:26AM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

For me butternuts are the longest keepers but also the latest to sweeten. I don't even bother bringing them to market till thanksgiving because the pepos and maximas taste so much better earlier in the season (and keep shorter so I have less waste if they're sold quickly.)

In order for Moschata squash to keep well and sweeten to their furthest potential, they need to have their thin skin cured well to keep from developing rotten spots.
For starters, treat them like eggs when handling. Squash may seem indestructible but every little bruise can lead to spoilage.
I cut them from the vine, leaving a 1/2 stem still attached. Then wipe off dirt and put them in a single layer on pallets in the greenhouse for about a month. If you don't have a greenhouse, improvise. You're looking for warm and dry, with no possibility of frost. Sun is a plus.
Basically, you're creating an indian summer for them which is rare in the northern hemisphere around harvest time.

If you are lucky enough to have the squash mature while the weather is dry and warm, to the point which the vines die back naturally and the squash is fully tan with straw colored stems, then you can skip the additional curing time.

-Mark

PS, sorry to the original poster, we seem to have taken a tangent. I probably should have started a new thread.

This post was edited by madroneb on Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 13:18

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 1:14PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Yes, sorry for the tangent, but thanks for the information! I feel like my squash might not be ready, but the stems are straw colored. It can't hurt to let them cure even if they are in good shape, for any winter squash, can it?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 9:57PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

No problem at all. Just watch for mouse damage, or cracking from heavy rainfall after a dry spell.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 11:26PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Double post.......

This post was edited by madroneb on Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 23:44

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 11:29PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

Best thing about the Red Kuri and other japanese Kabocha (besides the sweet flavor!) is the thin skin, which is perfectly edible. I tend to like the green kabocha, but the Red Kuri sure is pretty.

Butternuts and Acorns are a PITA to peel, for anything other than splitting in half and roasting.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2013 at 4:10AM
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