Georgia growers may want to consider growing hard squash in the spring. Timothy Coolong, an associate professor at the University of Georgia, says growing hard squash in the spring has some great advantages.
Hard squash is incredibly vulnerable to viruses transmitted from aphids. In the spring, the aphid population is significantly lower than in the fall. So in the spring, the squash can grow with less virus pressure. However, there is a disadvantage to growing in the spring. Hard squash is not generally thought of as a spring or summer vegetable. It is more popular in the fall, especially around the holidays. This makes it difficult, especially for larger growers, to market the vegetable in the summer.
There is a way around that disadvantage, though. Coolong says the biggest benefit to growing in the spring is the storage potential of the crop. Hard squash can be stored for a decent amount of time. “If you can grow them in the spring or late spring, you can potentially store them for several weeks up to a couple of months in cold storage,” Coolong says. This storage potential can allow growers to market the hard squash in the early fall, rather than trying to market it in the spring.
Despite the storage potential of hard squash, Coolong advises large-scale commercial growers to start out by trying to market the crop in the spring. Then, as growers become more comfortable with the crop, they can start to try different storage techniques.
Coolong believes some southern states could see success growing hard squash in the spring, while the north may not experience the same results. “As you move more north, there’s a reason these are considered fall vegetables. So, for some southern states I think it is an opportunity,” he concludes.
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