The Q&A Archives: Deformed Summer Squash

Question: Ours and our neighbor's summer squash have gnarled and lumpy blossom ends. What is wrong?

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 could be a fungal or bacterial disease. 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. Try these cultural practices and see if there's improvement.

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