Going Deep into How and When to Harvest Acorn Squash

Acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo var. turbinata), also known as pepper squash is a winter squash available in a variety of colours. Native to North and Central America, the crop is grown worldwide today for its fruit. The fruit has a shape like acorns: a small oblong including a flat top and a fine end, and deep folds throughout the exterior of the fruit.

The fruit contains yellow flesh with seeds. Most of the fruits have a dark green exterior but some of the varieties are orange on ripening. While a few species have a white coloured surface with green and orange stripes.

The fruit has a sweet taste and contains carbohydrates. Despite being a fruit botanically, the scorn squash is used as a starchy vegetable just like potatoes, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. The squash is low in calories making it good diet food.

The fruit contains many nutrients such as vitamin A and C, potassium, and magnesium. Acorn squash is used as a substitute for high carb veggies, especially pumpkin. The fruits can be consumed after baking, steaming, or making purees from them.

Just precise seeding and maintenance is not adequate for receiving the best taste of the fruits. We ought to understand two things before going for harvesting the Acorn Squashes;

1) When to Harvest Acorn Squash
2) How to Harvest Acorn Squash

WHEN TO HARVEST ACORN SQUASHES

Lest Start Harvest Acorn Squash-Harvesting Acorn Squash is an easy job. You only need to focus on a few other aspects while contemplating when to go collecting the acorn squashes.

Let us know more about the time before initiating the harvest, maturity indicators, and the importance of harvesting the Acorn Squashes at the right time!

TIME REQUIRED AHEAD OF HARVEST SQUASH

There is a general opinion about the expected maturity period for any product. There is a specific standing time that the crop experiences. Once, you cross this time, keep a focus on the growth to learn about the developments in the expected harvest. After learning all of the progress indications, you should really be able to select the best period to pick the acorn squashes.

The maturity time gives an impression about the impending harvest time. Growers must be equipped to collect the acorn squashes as the harvest date gets closer. You can learn in-depth about the coming harvest season by the information furnished on the seed packets besides the average yield period.

As of now, let us consider whence to apprehend the waiting time before picking any crop;

1)The Seed Pack’s Deadline

Observing the seed pack would provide a conservative idea of the return time. The acorn squash would not be prepared on the particular stated date. More detail about it can be collected from the internet and perhaps even the seed distributor.

The maturity age relies upon many other factors such as climate, cultivar, and soil too. So, do not harvest totally on this basis. It is just to be alert about the coming harvest period.

2)Typical Collection Time

Knowing the standard harvest season would be another way to have a better estimate of the harvesting stage. It takes about a minimum of 80 days to allow the crop to mature. Some of the varieties may even take around 100 days to get ready for the harvest. Also, all the fruits from the same batch will not be ready at the same time, so be sure to notice changes in the individual fruits after passing this average time.

The precise cultivation schedule will be dictated by the species of acorn squash planted. If all parameters are optimal, the acorn squash can grow in less time, and inversely.

MATURITY INDICATORS

There are a number of signals that denote when the acorn squash will be ready to be harvested. Some of them are fundamental indicators, and others are subordinate in nature.

Let us take a look at the different signs showing that perhaps the yield is primed.

-Fundamental Indicators

There are some indicators that play a main role to tell about the maturity of the crop. In the case of Acorn Squashes, these measures are the shade of the fruit as well as variations in hardness and stems.
Let us now acquire knowledge about each bit by bit.

1) Surface Hardness

Scrutinize the shell’s resilience. The acorn squash’s outermost part must be robust enough just to withstand nail piercing. Evaluate the crop by scratching the outer surface of the acorn squash with your fingernails.

If the surface shell has managed to reach the needed toughness, the fruit is perfectly ripe. If you really can rupture the shell, it implies the acorn squash is not yet mature. It is reasonable to leave them and sit for quite a while before harvesting.

2)The Squash’s Shade

The colour change of the squash is one of the major indicators of crop maturity. Analyse the crop for a shift in colour hues. When a deeper colour begins to appear, it shows that the harvest is fully ripe. Conversely, if the acorn squash is greenish in appearance, it is smart to wait for even more time before picking them.

3)Wilting of Stems

When the plant grows till maturity, the stems start to wilt and die. The stems of the plant convert to brown from green in colour. It represents the fact that nutrients are no longer being transmitted to the fruit because it has finished growing. No matter how much water you give to the plant, the stems will wither.

So, keep a check on the stems. If they show the above-mentioned points, go for harvesting!

4)Colour Change in Stems

The stems will start to change their colour to greyish and will become quite stiff. When you see the stems lose their colour, be alert! The harvest time is very near, otherwise, if the stalks show no colour change, there is still time to harvest.

5) Ground Spot

The ground spot produced by fruit also shows that it is fully ripe. A ground spot surfaces where the fruit is lounging on the earth. The ground spot is of different colours in case of the varieties. The acorn squashes show orange or yellow colours on the underside.

Notice the spots, if they develop, go for harvesting after examining the other signs, otherwise, wait!

-Secondary Aspects

Other than the discussed ones, there are a few supplementary factors to acknowledge. These include the dropping of fruits and the change in length of the fruits along with the appearance of the surface of the acorn squashes.

Here is what you need to learn about these signs;

1) Size of the Squash

On the basis of the species cultivated, acorn squash is generally mature when it reaches a size that can be eaten. Besides that, it is contingent on the conditions of growing. Farmers should monitor the duration to see whether harvest season is right around the corner.

2)Dropping of Fruits

Sometimes, the squashes will fall off the vines themselves. It is a true sign of ripening. If you notice any squash which has dropped, it is advisable to pick them as soon as possible to deter the warm weathers to rot the fruit quickly,

3)The Squash’s Appearance 

When completely mature, the acorn squashes have a plain appearance but a complete colour. Glossy skin demonstrates that you should give the crop more time to grow. So, keep a keen eye on the appearance of the acorn squashes to figure out when they will be harvested.

CHOOSING A DAY FOR HARVEST

After having learned the crop’s growing duration as well as how to assess the development of the acorn squashes, the next step is to pick up a day for harvest. Picking the best day to harvest is a cumbersome chore.

Let us discuss some perspectives to get a more dependable notion about the best possible time to harvest acorn squash.
Remember not to harvest your crop on a rainy day. The crop may take a longer time to cure and be susceptible to damage during storage.

It is favourable to pick the acorn squashes on a dry day to discourage the crop from getting soaked in water. If the acorn squashes are wet, take time to carefully dry them ahead of preserving them.

You should accumulate the product before the first hard frost which can hurt the plant. It also affects the squashes, triggering them to spoil in storage.

If you are unable to collect your squashes before the ground freezes, you could still save them. Scatter some hay on the field. It will help you a little.

If a hard freeze is foreseen and the acorn squashes are unripe, it is better suited to pick the fruits instead of just surrendering them all. You could intake immature fruits easily.

IMPORTANCE OF RIGHT TIME TO HARVEST

When to Harvest Acorn Squash
Harvest Acorn Squash

Time and Tide waits for none! This is a perfect explanation of why we need to be punctual while picking up the crop from the field. In case you fail to determine the harvest time properly, you will either harvest the crop before time or you will be late.

So, let us discuss the prospects of both an early as well as a late harvest below;

1)EARLY HARVEST

In case of an early harvest, you will definitely be at loss! The seeds of the fruit continue to develop if you harvest them at the tender stage. Since the seeds do not get nutrition from the plant’s stems since they are detached, they continue to flourish using the nutrition from the flesh of the fruit itself.

The following will be the outcomes you need to tackle if you harvest early;

1)Taste

The taste of the perfectly mature and ripe acorn squashes is much better than those which were not ripe. The immature squashes have poor taste.

2)Shorter Storage

The unmatured acorn squashes will not last much in the storage. They tend to deteriorate much faster than the ripe ones.

2)LATE HARVEST

If you go for a late harvest, you will have to bear the consequences. If the acorn squashes turn completely orange unless you have intentionally planted an orange-hued type, like Table Gold, it means that the fruit is overripe.

Now, let us discuss the undesirable changes in the yield due to over-maturity.

1)Mushiness

You will see that the flesh will become very mushy and non-delicious for eating. These would be of unsatisfactory consistency

2)Reduced Storage Time

The overripe fruits will not stay for much time in the storage. So, better to cook and use them immediately.

HOW TO HARVEST ACORN SQUASH

Once you know when to harvest Acorn Squash, the subsequent move would be to know How to harvest them. Let us understand what it necessitates for a good harvest!

Avoid twisting and pulling the acorn squashes from the vine. They are vulnerable to damage. If you extract the acorn squash without the stem, it could decay rapidly in stock.

The correct method to harvest the acorn squashes is to cut the squash from the vine with scissors or shears. Consider taking the stalk in one hand and the fruit in another one.

To discourage rotting, consider leaving a few inches of stem clinging to the acorn squashes. Microbes may be drawn to the wounds.
Instead of cleaning the fruit with water, wipe it using a slightly damp cloth to take away any sort of dirt.

If you rinse them, make sure to thoroughly air dry them before preserving them to avoid contamination.

-EXTRA TIPS

Here are some extra tips to make your harvest process easier!

Handle the squashes mildly to avoid injuries. Never carry the fruit by its stem as it may crack.

Wear gloves to avoid any problem while picking the fruits. The winter squash has spines vines, so the gloves will add extra protection.

Intake damaged or injured acorn squashes as swiftly as possible; such squashes do not retain for long. If you detach the full stems of the acorn squash, do not retain it; alternatively, just use it as fast as possible.

You can utilise the overmature squashes and those which have pest destruction for making compost.

CURING ACORN SQUASH

Once the harvest process is over, we generally regard Curing as a crucial step too. However, in the case of acorn squash, it is a choice whether we want to toughen the outer skin of the fruit by curing it or not. Some people even suggest skipping this step. The squashes are not long lasters, so sometimes this step is considered as a wastage of time also.

Leaving the choice to cure or not to cure on you, the following is everything you need to know before curing!

-PERFECT PLACE FOR CURING

Once we have discussed what curing is and its critical role in assessing the standard in terms of quality of stored fruits, it will be better to talk about the prerequisite requirements for Curing.

You can either plan to cure your fruits outside on the field or inside the house. You can leave the squashes out in the ground to cure for a few days in case you live in areas with long, mild winters.

If you want to cure them indoors, keep the acorn squash in an area having a temperature near 70- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to allow good air circulation to the fruits while curing.

Also, Learn – How and When to Harvest Garlic

-EXTRA TIPS FOR CURING

Here are some of the brownie points for a perfect curing experience!

We should let the acorn squashes cure for 5 to 7 days. In case of lesser temperatures than desired, keep them for some extra time.

Keep the damaged, diseased, or bruised fruits aside. They will not survive long in the storage. They must be ingested before the others.

It is unnecessary to remove all the excess soil before curing. So, expel the soil only through shaking. Do not wash the acorn squashes.

STORING ACORN SQUASH

After curing, the acorn squashes must be safely kept in order to be used at a later point in the year. The best way to store the acorn squashes is to keep them unwashed. We do this to discourage any rot or decay.

So, let us discuss where and how we can store our fruits to ensure long shelf life.

-PERFECT PLACE FOR STORING ACORN SQUASH

After knowing the prerequisites of the storage process, let us discuss the ideal location to store the fruits.

A place with a temperature of 50 – 60° F/10 – 15° C would be a perfect place to store the fruits. The area should have sufficient ventilation too for better shelf life. A root cellar, a basement, a cool closet, or a cool pantry are a few exemplary locations to keep them.

Never store the squashes in too low temperature. Low temperature may lead to chilling damage. Hence, avoid refrigerator storage.

ADDITIONAL STORAGE TIPS

Take a look at these additional storage tricks and tips!

You can store the product in a case, crate, containers, or boxes too if no particularised spot is there.

You Need not stack the acorn squashes in a container or basket. Instead, in a box or crate, place the squashes in a single layer.

Keep a place for air transmission. To deter the acorn squashes from deteriorating, do not let them hit or pile up on top of one another.

Inspect the acorn squashes for any degradation on a continuous basis. Discard off the spoilt ones punctually because they can plunder others too.

If you do not place the acorn squashes in ideal conditions, they last only for 14 days at room temperature levels.

The acorn squashes usually store around three months once cured and stored properly.

Once cooked, the fruits store only for much less time. You can keep cooked fruits in the refrigerator in airtight containers.

-Freezing as An Option for Storage

If you plan you can keep your squashes for long time periods, you can freeze them. You need to cut the squash and separate the seeds from the flesh. Now, bake the flesh in a baking dish in the oven at 375 degrees F for approximately 45 minutes, or till the squash is soft.

Now, keep the contents in an airtight container in the freezer. The squashes keep well for six months if stored in this way.

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