Ask a Question forum: Pick butternut squash now?

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Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
Sep 13, 2014 2:27 PM CST
Hi. I have butternuts that are tan and hard. Can I pick them now, or I'd there benefit to leaving them on longer? I want to make room for some fall transplants.
Thumb of 2014-09-13/Anderwood/c302b0
Thumb of 2014-09-13/Anderwood/508e15

They are the Waltham variety.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Sep 13, 2014 2:34 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Gorgeous fruit!

That top one looks ready. The bottom one, I'm not sure. I like to see the stems turning brown before I harvest.
Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
Sep 13, 2014 7:38 PM CST
Does the plant give it more nutrition the longer it is on the vine? Or is it just a place for it to hang out until there is a frost? It has been that color for three weeks.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Sep 13, 2014 8:02 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

That's beyond my knowledge set. My grandpa in Wisconsin used to leave them on the vine until after the first light frost. Then he'd go out into the field and pick them up. I always assumed it was so that they'd be easier to find but maybe he knew something more than I'm thinking!
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 14, 2014 1:00 PM CST
I always left winter squashes until frost killed the leaves, too. I think as long as the plant has green leaves, and the sun is shining they are making sugar for the fruit as well as energy for the plant.

As Dave said, though, the brown stem usually means the plant is ready to let that fruit fall. On the other hand, you do sometimes see squash for sale with green stems and they taste fine.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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