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Danelle Cutting column: Squash

By Danelle Cutting
NC Cooperative Extension

I cannot believe it is December already. It seems like just yesterday I was helping harvest our winter squash. As most of my readers know, our office, along with several other extension offices, has been conducting research trials on winter squash. When contemplating on what to write about this week, I realized that I had not updated our reading audience on what was happening with the trial.

Our squash was harvested in late September and early October. What we are doing now is testing the shelf life of both harvests at room temperature and a cooler space. The results so far are quite interesting. Of course, we hypothesized which varieties would last the longest in both conditions and which ones would go quickest.

I have had questions about why I used blue pumpkins as “guard” rows, when the study will be completed, and did the trial work.

To answer some of these questions, I thought I would give a quick recap of the trial. We first started this experiment because we wanted to plant another crop behind strawberries using the same plastic. We wanted to verify that the crop and plastic would work, and it did. But, we also wanted to see what varieties did the best. We have guard rows all around the plot. Research trials do this to try and have the most consistent trial and reduce any impact from other crops nearby. We chose to use blue pumpkins as our guard rows. We originally wanted to do a small trial with the blue pumpkins, but we did not have enough seed for a true trial, so we used them as guard rows instead

We should be finished with our shelf life study by the end of January. It will take some time to compile the information, but we are already preparing a continuation of the trial for next year, slightly tweaking what we did before. We will probably plant earlier and directly seed the squash instead of transplanting. We are also planning on doing a few more trials with different crops. Stay tuned over the next few weeks to discover what will be next.

All in all, this has been a great trial and partnership with different agencies. This trial has had the work of several Cooperative Extension Agents from multiple counties, the Piedmont Research Station, and the Kannapolis Research Campus. If you would like more information on this trial, contact your local Cooperative Extension Agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.

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