Butternut Squash Production

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Butternut

Botanical Name: Cucurbita moschata

Suitable Varieties: Butter Boy, Pluto, Autumn Glow, Long White Bush, Bush Scallop, Atlas, Barbara, and Avalon.

Source of seeds: Certifies seeds from reputable seed companies.

Climatic and Soil Requirements: Squash are warm season crops and prefer high temperatures of 18-35oC and well drained sandy-loams with pH of 6-6.5 (slightly acidic to nearly neutral) for optimum growth and development. A relatively dry period is required for fruits to mature. Fruits produced during the wet season tend to rot.

Site selection: Select easily accessible sites with a gentle slope and friable soils rich in organic matter close to a perennial source of water. Avoid waterlogged areas.

Land Preparation: The land should be cleared of trees, grasses and root stumps. Construct drainage channels to drain excess water where necessary; and a farm pond to collect excess water to be re-used for irrigation if there is no danger of spreading diseases. Double plough and harrow soil to a fine tilth. Incorporate well-decomposed manure at 20-30 ton/ha before ploughing to improve the soil texture and aeration and raise ridges 0.3-0.5m high and 1m apart.

Sowing: sow 3-4 seeds/mound directly, 1m apart. Thin out seedlings at 2-leaf stage to 2 plants/mound.

Seed rate: 1-4 kg seeds/ha depending on the variety.

Fertilizer Requirements: A soil test is highly recommended to determine the fertility level of the soil. The amount to be applied can then be adjusted for residual nutrients. Alternatively, apply 20-50 g/plant NPK 15-15-15 two weeks after planting (WAP) and 40 g/plant Superphosphate 6WAP. Apply EPA approved foliar fertilizers routinely to boost production and immunity. Always follow manufacturer’s recommendations.

Irrigation: Abundant and regular well-distributed water supply is necessary for good yields. Yields are severely reduced by moisture stress, however, over watering predisposes plants to fungal diseases. Irrigation should be done preferably in the morning.

 

Pest and Disease Control

The general rule is to adapt Integrated Crop Pest Management Practices (ICMP) in the control of pests and diseases. Specifically pests and diseases may be identified and controlled as follows:

Weed Control: keep soil free of weeds at all times. Vines may be trained to leave paths between the rows in order to give access for pest and disease control operations. Plastic mulch cultivation is encouraged. Pre-plant weed control with glyphosate improves yields. Avoid fields previously treated with Atrazine.

 

Major Pests and Diseases

Pumpkin fly: Adult flies lay eggs in soft young fruit. The eggs hatch and larvae feed inside the fruit, which rots and becomes soft. The fruit then turns yellow and later dries out becoming brown or black in colour. Control by spraying EPA approved insecticides.

Downy mildew: Irregularly shaped yellowish to brown spots appear on upper sides of leaves usually at the centre of plants. Leaves die as spots increase in size. Spray with EPA approved fungicides.

Nematodes: Infested plants become stunted and yellowish. Severely affected plants may wilt. To control, rotate butternuts with nematode tolerant crops; plough land during the fallow season to eliminate alternate hosts and expose nematodes to the sun to dry; and use/or use EPA approved nematicides.

Powdery mildew: A white powdery growth on upper surface of the leaves. High temperatures favor disease development. To control, spray with EPA approved Sulphur/Copper based fungicides.

Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV): Infected plants are stunted, and new leaves are dwarfed, mottled and sometimes wrinkled. Fruits may also be irregular in shape with knobs on their surface. The mosaic virus is spread chiefly by aphids and whiteflies (bermisia). Control: Crop rotation, vector control, destruction of alternate hosts and infected plants.

Harvesting: Fruits mature and are ready for harvest when the skin is hard and cannot be punctured by thumbnails. Cut fruits off the vine leaving 1-2 cm of stalk and place into    harvesting crates.

Yields: Average yield of 6-10 MT/ha can be obtained depending on the variety and management practice adopted

Post harvest handling: Squash must be carefully handled to minimize cuts and bruises. Wash fruits with soapy water containing 1 part chlorine to 10 parts of water to remove soil and destroy pathogens.

Dry fruits, sort out hard shelled ones and cure them under room temperature foe 4 weeks. Curing hardens shell, heals superficial wounds, reduces water content and improves quality.

Packaging and storage: Pack fruits into jute sacks or boxes and store in a cool dry well ventilated place. Fruit harvested may be stored for 3-4 months. Routinely remove any rotting fruit from the store.

Operation Budget/Ha/Yr

           Activity   Cost (GHc)
   
           Land rent 250.00
           Land preparation 400.00
           Seeds 200.00
         Fertilizer and manure 2056.00
           Pesticides 100.00
           Labour 2500.00
           Total estimated cost 5506.00

Revenue

Average fruit yields/ha =6tons =6,000kg

Percentage loss of 5%

Available yield for market

=95/100 x 6,000kg = 5,700 kg

Packaging in 6 kg box = 5,700 kg/6 = 950 boxes

Farm gate price/6 kg = 934 x GHc 15

Income = Ghc 14,250

Net income = GHc 14,250 – 5506 =8,744.00

 

Note: this does not include fixed costs and overheads.

 

© 2013

Developed by;

Horticulture development unit

(HDU-DCS), MOFA

Printed by;

Export Marketing & Quality Awareness project

(EMQAP)

For further information

Contact the nearest MOFA office or HDU

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