The Q&A Archives: Rotting Butternut Squash

Question: Why are my butternut squash rotting on my garage shelf? Picked 18 or 20 in October and November. Left at least 2 inches of vine. Did not wash. Some were dirty. Brushed off dirt. Stored loosely on shelf. At least half have rotted. Also some are getting dry or pithy inside.

Answer: Under ideal storage conditions, where temperature and humidity are carefully controlled, winter squash keeps up to 5 months. (Ideal temperatures are 45F - 50F, with 65 - 70 percent humidity.) Since your squash were harvested in October and November, they've reached the end of their shelf life. Here are some guidelines to help you overcome problems with squash: It's important that squash be fully mature before harvesting and that they not be subjected to frost. If yours were harvested after a frost, the storage life could be affected. As part of the harvesting process, squash should be cut from the vine and allowed to remain in the field until the stems shrivel and turn brown. If squash are bruised during harvest or storage, they will rot. Finally, if the air circulation is poor, or the humidity too high in the storage site, the squash can rot. Sometimes wiping the squash with a 1:9 bleach and water solution at harvest time will help extend storage life. If your squash are drying out inside, it means the moisture has evaporated, a sign that the squash are past their prime. Hope this answers your questions.

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