When Is the Proper Time to Pick Butternut Squash?

Written by julie christensen
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When Is the Proper Time to Pick Butternut Squash?
Harvest butternut squash in mid-fall and store in a cool, dry place. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Creamy, mild butternut squash stores well and is a good source of fibre and vitamin A, but it needs a longer growing season than summer squash. Wait until just before the first heavy frost to pick butternut squash. If you live in an area with a short growing season, plant a fast-maturing variety, such as Early Butternut or Ponca.

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Harvest Time

Harvest butternut squash in late fall before the first heavy frost. Butternut squash is mature when the rind is hard and the squash has an even creamy tan colour with no hint of green. Cut the squash with a sharp knife, leaving 2 inches of stem if possible. Use care so you don't cut or bruise the squash and avoid stepping on the stems.

Exceptions

Occasionally, you may have to harvest a squash early if it has been damaged or if frost is imminent. Although not fully ripened, these squash are interchangeable in any recipe calling for butternut squash. They'll have a slightly different flavour and won't store as well, due to a softer rind.

Storage Tips

Store butternut squash in a basement or attached garage with temperatures between 7.22 and 10.0 degrees C. Store the squash in a single layer if possible with at least 1 inch between each squash to minimise rotting. Use butternut squash within three months. For longer storage, peel and cook the squash and place it in freezer bags. Leave 1/2 inch of space at the top of the bag and seal it tightly.

Growing Tips

Plant butternut squash only after the soil and air has warmed. Seeds won't germinate in cold, wet soil. Space the squash at least 4 feet apart and keep the soil evenly moist. Top dress the squash with a balanced fertiliser three times during the growing season. Cut back water as fall approaches to promote ripening.

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