Picking Butternut Squash

SpringyAugust 5, 2014

I have read and read and read and everything seems to say to leave butternut squash on the vine until the vine starts to die/before the 1st frost.

I have one that looks like it will be ready soon-- do I still leave it on until the vine dies/1st frost (I am in MA.) or do I remove it in hopes that removing it will plump up the other small butternut squash on the vine?

Does it work the way it does with cucumbers that removing it makes room for more growth? & Won't it be gigantic? Its already looking so big!

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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

In any case I would leave it on until it turns a pinkish tan with a hard half dried stem. rather than being almond color.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 3:49PM
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Springy

is that before or after the almond color?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 3:55PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

After.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 6:34PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

My first butternut is ripe in June. If I left them on the vine until the first frost, it would be six months later! So leaving them on the vine that long is nonsense. Butternut is ripe when the fruit is beige, and the longitudinal green stripes are gone, or mostly gone. It's that simple.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:44AM
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Springy

@daninthedirt - what i have read says to leave until the vine starts to die OR first frost.

So, my question is really whether there is any benefit to leaving them on the vine until after they turn beige (assuming the vine looks good and first frost has not arrived.)

Or if it is better to remove it as soon as it turns beige to give the other butternut squash more nutrients/etc.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 9:36AM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

Well, here in the south, if you wait until the first frost, it could be years! Now, it is often true that the vine will die as the squash is ripening. If the vine is dead and gone, you might as well pick it and hope for the best. I've never seen any value in leaving them on the vine after they get ripe. It's certainly not good for either that squash or any other squashes on the vine.

I've occasionally had vines die while the green stripes are still faintly visible and the squash aren't quite beige. No big deal. They'll still be fine to eat.

The "pick before first frost" rule is an "up north" rule that, I think, saves you the trouble of deciding if it is ripe. I've never really understood it. I think the point is that you may get a frost before they are ripe. If you do, best to have the fruit off the vine.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:00AM
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ltilton

The issue is storage. The more mature the squash, the better it keeps in storage.

Ripe-to-eat and Ripe-to-store are two distinct things.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:30AM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; HZ10, Sunset z30, USDA z8a)

That's a good point. I don't have a lot of expertise with that, but my fully beige butternuts last about a year at room temperature.

One good hint for winter squash storage I've learned is, before putting them away, wash well and then dip in water with some bleach added to it. That kills the surface bacteria.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 10:43AM
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Springy

@ltilton- thank you!! that must be the reason I am reading to keep them on the vine as long as possible. it must be the storage issue. I will go ahead and pick that large one once ready and a few more as we plan to eat them and keep the ones I plan to store on the vine as long as possible.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 1:07PM
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