The Q&A Archives: Rotting Undeveloped Squash

Question: My yellow crook neck squash develops small squash, but as they begin to mature beyond 2-3" long they rot. The squash look as though they are wilted, but in essence they are rotting. Some have soft spots about the size of a dime which rot first then the rest of the squash withers to mush.

Answer: A few possibilities come to mind. If the baby squash are just emerging, it could be that the female blossoms weren't pollinated. This sometimes happens early in the season, before the male blossoms appear. It can also happen during cool spells when pollinators are less active.

However, it sounds as if the problem is most likely fungal or bacterial diseases attacking fruit. The wet scar formed when the flower detaches from the fruit is a prime site
for infection if conditions are right. Cultural techniques like not overwatering, using a drip watering system rather than constant overhead sprinkling (wet plants create a perfect environment for disease), and growing vines on a trellis to improve air circulation all will help significantly. Mulching with a layer of dry organic material, such as straw, can help reduce the problem somewhat but is not a 100% solution to this problem. Try these cultural practices and see if there's improvement. There's still squash-growing time left! Good luck!

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