Ask a Question forum: delicata squash mutant

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Ithaca, NY
judithblair88
Jul 22, 2017 5:09 PM CST
I've had a delicata squash plant "volunteer" in the same space for three years. The first year, it produced typical small, elongated delicatas. The second year it produced a rich harvest of sugar muffin squash, which I understand is a variant. This year, it has produced one squash, which is HUGE and just keeps growing. I'm waiting for the green stripes that indicate that it's maturing, but it's all cream-colored except for very pale stripes near the stem. I have no idea how to tell when this monster is ripe and whether it will even be edible since it's so overgrown. The plant keeps trying to produce more squash, but the new ones shrivel because all the energy is going into this one massive elongated squash.
Has anyone heard of a freak thing like this? Should I cut it off the plant in hopes of getting normal squash or just let it keep going in hopes it will ripen and be edible. It's over a foot long!
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Jul 22, 2017 5:21 PM CST
Well, you've actually let your Delicata plants revert back to some variant of the parent plants, I think. No matter if you take off the big squash that's growing, or leave it on, that plant isn't going to make anything different. May as well enjoy growing a big, giant squash. Never know, it may taste really good!

Probably let it grow and prosper until around the time you're expecting your first cold nights. It may change color to tell you when it's ready. Then harvest it, cut it up in serving-size chunks, and wrap and refrigerate the pieces. It will keep for quite a long time.

I can't remember the test for ripeness for winter squash, sorry. How about posting a picture of it?
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Ithaca, NY
judithblair88
Jul 22, 2017 5:37 PM CST
To Elaine,
I don't have the technology to post a photo of my mutant squash. I may ask one of my grandchildren for help when they stop by, but they hate that! It looks like a really fat baseball bat. The rule of thumb for harvesting winter squash is to harvest when the stem dries out, but it's still only July so I'm wondering just how huge this thing is going to get before cold weather hits and the stems start to dry out. You are probably right that this is a throwback, since last year's sugar muffins were a throwback. They looked like round, puffy versions of delicatas, and were actually even sweeter. I want to post a photo--people who grow delicatas won't believe it. Thank You!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
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Weedwhacker
Jul 22, 2017 7:14 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @judithblair88

Do you have other squash/pumpkins growing in your garden (or maybe in nearby gardens)? If so, any of them that are Cucurbita pepo will easily cross with the Delicata.
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Jul 23, 2017 8:21 AM CST
Judith : hi 😁
VEERRYY INTERESTING ?👹?
I'd pick that dude right now, and eat him. I'd want to see how he tastes. nodding 😜
Plus ! Give plant time to make more Thumbs up
Hows, them apples taste. 😜
I can't wait. Hurray! I tip my hat to you.
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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
Jul 23, 2017 9:46 AM CST
Um, Delicata is a hard, winter type squash, Phil. So this offspring is also.

Won't taste good right now at all. They need to harden and ripen. The flesh will be firm and golden or orange, like a pumpkin or an acorn squash.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Ithaca, NY
judithblair88
Jul 23, 2017 3:10 PM CST
To Weedwhacker,
It looks like it's crossed with a butternut in shape and color (but bigger than any butternut I've ever seen) but I haven't grown butternuts in this garden for several years.
I don't have any other squash varieties planted this year so there couldn't have been any cross-pollination this year. I did have butternuts growing in another garden elsewhere on the property last year. A squirrel ate out the bottom of one of the squashes last year so the seeds spilled out in this space (where the volunteer emerged this year) and I had to put what was left in the compost pile, but those seeds could possibly have been carrying some butternut genes, I suppose. What an entertaining notion, that this thing could be a cross between delicata and some other cucurbita pepo! This possibility makes me more confident in letting it grow until the stem starts to dry out. (I was afraid that the meat would be tough and flavorless because the thing was overgrowing.) I'm with Philip in dying to know how this weird thing is going to taste, but it's showing no signs of being ready to harvest so anyone who is as curious as I am about that is just going to have to wait. I'd like the plant to be able to produce more than one fruit, but this one masterpiece is going to be big enough to feed the whole family at Thanksgiving by itself if it keeps growing this way. I'll save the seeds if it's tasty and see if I can replicate this phenomenon next summer. With accidental hybrids, you never know what you're going to get!
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
Greenhouse Region: United States of America Region: Michigan Enjoys or suffers cold winters Butterflies Birds
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Weedwhacker
Jul 23, 2017 3:38 PM CST
Butternut is a different species (C. moschata), so your Delicata probably didn't cross with that...

I'd also be inclined to just let it grow and see how it turns out! Thumbs up
“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." ~ Albert Schweitzer /
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Ithaca, NY
judithblair88
Jul 23, 2017 3:46 PM CST
I've grown acorns and buttercup squash in the last few years. Those are both cucurbitas but bear no resemblance to my mutant in color, shape or size so it's just a mystery that's going to have to play out. Check back in the fall for a report on the taste, texture, etc. and the final size this thing attains.
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jul 23, 2017 4:24 PM CST
I'm reading along but without a photograph it is difficult. I hope the grandchildren can be summoned to help us to better visualize this event. Thumbs up Maybe offer them some cookies? Shrug!
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Ithaca, NY
judithblair88
Jul 23, 2017 4:30 PM CST
I've put out a request but they are young adults and hard to nail down in the summer what with traveling and activities. I'd love to share a visual!
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
My dogs love me; some people don't.
Deer Bookworm Keeper of Poultry Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Region: Georgia
Plant Identifier Rabbit Keeper Composter Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Herbs
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greene
Jul 23, 2017 4:40 PM CST
When I need the help of a young person I usually call on the local Boy Scouts or, if need be, the local evangelists from the Mormon church. I find that all of these young men to be very willing to help - and they are happy to work for a glass of lemonade. Thumbs up
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Ithaca, NY
judithblair88
Jul 24, 2017 7:01 PM CST
Thanks to my granddaughter, I now have photos of the mutant squash. I took one of a delicata squash I planted this year, in case anyone doesn't know what they are supposed to look like. It's about six inches long.
The rest are photos of the mutant squash. I put my hand on the last one for scale, because they don't look that big until you provide something for comparison.
Thumb of 2017-07-25/judithblair88/818cdc


Thumb of 2017-07-25/judithblair88/301fc6


Thumb of 2017-07-25/judithblair88/201f8f

Ithaca, NY
judithblair88
Jul 24, 2017 7:04 PM CST
Whoops! Didn't send the file containing the "normal" 6-inch delicata. Here it is:
Thumb of 2017-07-25/judithblair88/f8cfc7

Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Jul 24, 2017 7:22 PM CST
Looks like a white Zuccini.
Ithaca, NY
judithblair88
Jul 24, 2017 7:44 PM CST
I've never planted zucchini in all the years I've had this garden, only winter squash, and this plant came up in the same spot where the volunteer delicata has grown for the last three years. If it was a zucchini, I should be harvesting it now, not letting it get bigger and bigger, so I wish there was some way to know for sure. It's kind of pale for a yellow zucchini--it's the pale cream of a delicata. I thought zucchini grew from a central plant and didn't vine. This plant is vining. It's getting a bumpy texture as it gets bigger. Aren't zucchinis smooth? Here is a photo showing the bumpy texture:
Thumb of 2017-07-25/judithblair88/d0dfb7

Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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
Jul 24, 2017 8:06 PM CST
I think it's definitely a winter squash of some type, just another mutation of your Delicata. Even if the Delicata squash vines pollinated themselves, you could still get a pretty wide range of different offspring because Delicata is a hybrid, so there's no telling what it will be until it's ripe. Maybe something really great? Keep us posted.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Ithaca, NY
judithblair88
Aug 3, 2017 6:17 PM CST
The giant in my garden is starting to develop the green stripes typical of delicata. Maybe it's finally working on ripening instead of just growing and growing! The green is faint right now. I'll post an updated photo when it becomes more pronounced.

JPatoine
Sep 2, 2017 6:28 PM CST
To judithblair88: Just found this thread. I also have Delicata which are going crazy. Did you ever harvest yours?
Ithaca, NY
judithblair88
Sep 2, 2017 6:40 PM CST
The vines are still healthy so I haven't harvested the squash. I have no idea how to tell when it's ripe! Since it stopped growing, the plant has put out another huge squash, maybe even a little bigger than the first one. The first one is turning yellow, so it's in a new phase of ripening. With a mutant, there are simply no cues to tell you when it's ready to harvest, so I'm just waiting until the vine starts to dry up, since that's the general rule with winter squash. I know there are people wanting to know how these monsters taste. Me too!

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