The Q&A Archives: Shriveling Acorn Squashes

Question: I planted Acorn Squash for the first time this year. I planted the required 2 plants per mound and the plants are growing like crazy (on the ground). I have had several fruit begin to grow and get to be about 1 1/2 inches around and then shrivel up and die. What is wrong? I don't think I am over watering (every other day they get a good soaking). Can you help?

Answer: The answer to your question depends upon whether the fruits are shriveling up on their own, or if there's a rot that starts at the blossom end of the fruit and travels toward the stem. 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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