buttercup vs butternut

flora2b(z6a bc)September 20, 2008

What has been your experience with these two different winter squashes?

I grew a butternut many years ago and it did not mature properly, so I switched to buttercup and have been successful for years. Well this year I decided to try my more experienced hand at growing butternut again.........well, they just seem to take so much longer to mature than buttercup. Yet my parents, who live only 4 miles away, can and do grow them to full maturity with no problems.

My last years growing of buttercup was a new variety named 'orange dawn' which was about the same size as regular buttercup, but the rind needed an axe to access it....not impressed......usually only see this trait on the hubbard line.

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Butternut is of the c. moschata family, which tends to take a bit longer than the other species of squash, except the c. mixtas like Cushaw. If you have the temperatures for sufficient number of days it should do well for you. If you're in an area where it gets cool real early or warms up real late, and warm growing days are limited, then a c. maxima (like Buttercup) or a c. pepo (like a Jack O'lantern pumpkin or acorn squash) will likely do better for you. These two species have the ability to set and mature fruit more rapidly, especially after drought or in shorter growing seasons.

Now butternuts are not real long season squash. But they don't sprint like a c. maxima or a c. pepo. I prefer c. moschata because I usually battle borers. Neither c. maxima nor c. pepo handle borers as well as most c. moschatas. But if I lived in an area without borers I'd probably do c. maximas more than c. moschatas, since they have such dry fine textured flesh.

I have given up on c. maximas, for here in my part of Oklahoma. They always die before I can get fruit. But it sounds like your environment favors c. maxima, and, I suspect c. pepo. My guess is that your folks have a slightly warmer micro climate than do you.

I have never seen a butternut with a shell like a Hubbard. But I suppose that doesn't mean that such a squash doesn't exist.

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 6:44AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I second George's comments. C. moschata squashes seem to need more heat than the others... so if the "B.C." in your zone is British Columbia (especially if you are near the coast), they may not do well for you. I can grow them to maturity here in Wisconsin, but to do so reliably, I need to start them early as transplants. Transplants may work for you as well. There is also a bush butternut which ripens earlier, but the squashes are much smaller than other butternuts.

On the bright side, if you are in B.C., then you are probably free of the squash vine borers that plague George & me. I can only succeed with acorns, hubbards, and buttercups if I use floating row covers to protect the young plants from insect attack.

Floating row covers raise the temperature beneath them, so it's possible that they might allow faster early growth for butternuts. You would need to remove the cover when the plants begin to flower.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 11:27AM
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mxbarbie(pnw BC 5)

I love butternut squash and finally this year managed to get 1 fruit off of 3 vines. I planted them indoors in february (3 gal pot)and transplanted them out side in june(into a heap of compost). Very tricky. I'll try again next year, hopefully I will do better.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 2:20PM
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Flora, my experiences with buttercup vs butternut are much the same as yours. I'm only a few miles south of the BC border but well away from the coast. And, yes, out of harms way with regards to SVB.

DW wanted to grow Waltham butternut again this year. It turned out to be a very difficult Spring here for warm-season veggies. I had melons die from the cool and wet conditions. And, so did the butternuts. Once again and for many years running, the Burgess buttercups did fine and we've got a good crop of Winter squash.

I've tried other buttercups/kabochas and Hubbards with fairly limited success. Strangely, acorns have an odd taste when they come from my garden. It's gotten so that I'm afraid to venture away from the Burgess. I'm sure I'll be tempted again but after committing an entire season of space in the garden, it is nice to see the buttercups return to a place in the basement to await their use as baked squash and "pumpkin" pies.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 2:56PM
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I'll throw in my experience FWIW. I grew both Waltham Butternut(Moschata) and Hubbard(Maxima) this year. It was a cool growing season, even by Northwest Oregon standards. I got good production collectively and from all individual plants. They seem to have ripened plenty early. In fact, warm weather in September has caused more fruits to set, which I'm *guessing* it's doing cuz the existing fruits have already ripened.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 3:58PM
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flora2b(z6a bc)

Thanks for all the wonderful info, looks like I should be sticking with buttercup as we have no squash bug pressures here or I may try zeedman's suggestion of transplants.
George the "orange dawn" I was referring to was a C.maxima and it sounds like hubbard is in that class, so that would explain that.
Steve, I am in the east corner of BC, well away from the coastal type weather, and in a banana belt of sorts. I'm glad I'm not the only one struggling with butternuts.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 8:32PM
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