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cross-pollination of Squash

Posted by hopefulgrower 7 (My Page) on
Sun, May 2, 10 at 11:45

I am hoping to plant summer squash and zucchini in my garden this year. But I read recently that the recommended distance to avoid cross-pollination is 1/4 mi. Not sure where I found that information or how reputable the source was. Can anyone tell me if they've managed to avoid cross-pollination in a backyard garden? I can separate them in different raised beds that are about 30-35 yards apart, but that's the best I can do.

Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: cross-pollination of Squash

Hey hopeful,

did your source say whether the fruits of the plant were effected - or if it is just a concern for saving seed?


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RE: cross-pollination of Squash

Most in the same family will readily cross but it doesn't affect the fruit. The only time CP is of any concern (other than with corn) is if you plan to save the seeds for the following year. If you aren't saving seeds then CP doesn't matter.

You'll find several other discussions on this question here if you want to do a search. Just use 'squash cross'.

Dave


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RE: cross-pollination of Squash

If cross pollination is a concern ( and has been stated it is not a concern unless you are saving seed) a quarter mile is about the minimun distance. Squash are insect pollinated and polinators like Bumble bees or honeybees can cover quite a distance between visits to the nest. The simplest way to save squash seeds is to bag and hand pollinate.


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RE: cross-pollination of Squash

Thanks, all. I can't recall whether the source was referring to saving seed or fruiting, but I really appreciate the insight and will check out the other posts. Still kind of new--was so focused on expanding the garden and starting from seed that I hadn't even asked myself the question on whether to save seed.

Farmerdilla--what do you mean by the last part?


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RE: cross-pollination of Squash

Farmerdilla--what do you mean by the last part?

You make a small bag to cover the bloom before it opens and then hand pollinate it yourself and re-bag it. That way you are sure it isn't cross pollinated. There are FAQs here on how to do both.

Dave


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RE: cross-pollination of Squash

I raised my squash side by side and got green crooknecks and yellow zucchini, freaky! You can also get green cauliflower by planting it next to broccoli! Its a great way to freak out your family with your mutant produce!


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RE: cross-pollination of Squash

  • Posted by remy 6WNY (My Page) on
    Tue, May 4, 10 at 8:33

Here's a response I gave to someone else on the Seed Saving Forum that might be helpful to some people:

If you want to save seed from squash(without bagging,) you need to grow only types with a different second name. Squash's latin name is Cucurbita, but all squash have a second name of who they are compatable with. Like zucchini is most always Cucurbita pepo. Butternut is Cucurbita moschata. So zucchini and butternut will not cross because their second names are different. But Acorn squash is Cucurbita pepo, so it will cross with zucchini. There are other second names like maxima and mixta.
Also, if you neighbors are growing squash close to you there could be cross pollination. The reason they is so much cross pollination between compatable varieties is squash need insect pollination to make fruit. Other veggies like tomatoes do not.
So technically if you wanted to totally make sure your seed was pure, you would need like a mile or something between varieties. For home gardening that is impossible, and as long as your not really close to the neigbors you should be fine. I have seed saved from a local farmer and the squash grew true to type even though he grows different varieties. I think it is just cautionary that you may not get 100% if something is growing in the distance: )
Remy


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RE: cross-pollination of Squash

I raised my squash side by side and got green crooknecks and yellow zucchini, freaky! You can also get green cauliflower by planting it next to broccoli! Its a great way to freak out your family with your mutant produce!

Then what you planted must have been some contaminated/crossed seed - which does happen now and then even with store bought seed. A stray seed or 2 gets mixed in the package or the seed grower had some CP he didn't control for.

Cross pollination does not affect the first year crop, only the seeds. Only the seeds, not the fruit. But if you plant crossed seeds then yes you will have mixed squash with strange colors, shapes, and flavors.

And green cauliflower, just like orange and purple cauliflower, are hybrid varieties with seeds readily available. But since cauliflower and broccoli don't even bloom or form seed heads until long after the head itself is formed and harvested to eat and the plant bolts, it really can't cross pollinate with each other.

All kinds of great articles available on the web on the basics of vegetable cross-pollination but as already mentioned - corn being the common exception since it is the seeds you are eating - in most cases it doesn't matter unless you save the seeds to plant the following year.

Dave


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RE: cross-pollination of Squash

Concur, the first year you get what you plant. I interplant 8 varieties of summer squash, but I don't save seeds. The cauliflower broccoli comment really is off the wall. Few people ever see a cauliflower bloom. You do not get green cauliflower by planting it next to broccoli. You need to a dedicated breeder who (1) insures that they are blooming at the same time and (2) will carefully introduce pollen from one to the other. You have literally to emasculate one cultivar so that it only recieves pollen from the other.


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RE: cross-pollination of Squash

Amen, master Farmerdilla.

There are facts(few) and fictions, a lot more.
Some will even swear that their sweet bell pepper got hot by planting next to habanero. grin!


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RE: cross-pollination of Squash

I've never experienced cross pollination that would affect current year's harvest. This year is the first time I'm seeing the same problem as organicislandfarmer.

My straightneck early yellow summer squash plants are grown from seeds (direct sow seeds same variety from different companies). They are very healthy with beautiful foliage. However, out of 10 female flowers, there's one male flower. So I had to borrow the green zucchini male flower to hand pollinate the yellow squash. Now all the yellow squash fruits are of the color yellow with slight green hue.

Since this is the first year I plant yellow summer squash, I'm not sure whether their color changes when they mature. They're about 6-7 inches now. I wonder if I should eat these or yank them out?


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