Butternut Squash - Knowledgebase Question

Largo, Fl
Avatar for comathea
Question by comathea
October 16, 2010
I have a butternut squash plant that gets blossoms but most do not get squash to grow and those that do when it gets to about 2 to 3 in. long 1/2 in. diameter it is yellow in color then it turns black and drops off can you tell me what is wrong?

Answer from NGA
October 16, 2010
If the blossoms are falling off without developing fruit, the female flowers are not being pollinated. There might not be adequate insect activity in your garden due to pesticide sprays in the general vicinity. It can also happen during cool spells when pollinators are less active. You can hand pollinate the blossoms yourself by taking a small artist?s paint brush or Q-tip and rubbing the pollen from the male (without a small fruit behind the flower) and into the female (with a small fruit behind the flower). Also, plants need phosphorous to produce flowers and fruits. You didn't say if you have fertile soil, or problems with other plants, but you might want to use a side dressing of fertilizer high in phosphorous (the middle number) or an organic source, such as bone meal. Scratch it into the soil to the side of the plant's roots. 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. Good luck!

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