Squash or “kalabasa” (Cucurbita moschata Duch) is a viny, creeping and trailing crop producing fruits and considered to be one of the most delicious vegetables. It is the most commonly and regularly grown among the cucurbits due to its rich source of Vitamin A, phosphorous and calcium . The young and tender shoots make good vegetable salad. The fruit is excellent for “ginataan” especially in the Bicol region.
Though this crop has long been known in the country, its cultivation is mostly confined in the backyard scale. Most of the areas devoted to squash production are generally the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Southern Tagalog and Bicol. However, the premier provinces producing this crop for semi-commercial scale are Batangas, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Leyte and Davao.
Squash is a tender tendril-bearing and viny-like plant belonging to the family Cucurbitaceae of Gourd Family. It has a very course, prostrate or climbing annual, herbaceous vine, reaching a length of 4 meters or more and flowering throughout the year. Adventitious roots are also commonly formed at its nodes. The leaves are broadly rounded and heart shaped. Adventitious roots are also commonly formed at its nodes.
Flowers are erect, lemon yellow to deep orange in color, about 12 cm long, the male flowers with longer peduncles than the female ones 15 to 30 cm in diameter. The fruits are large and variable in shape, size, color and markings with peduncle that is large, soft and corky on the surface at maturity. Numerous seeds are embedded in the tissue of the placenta which lies at the center of the fruit.
Uses and Nutritive Value
Squash is a rich of vitamin A in amount comparable to the degree of yellow color. The young shoots, flowers and fruits are used as vegetables, it is palatable when cooked alone or in combination with other vegetables, fish and meat. Matured can be made into pies and other delicacies. In addition, seeds of mature fruits can be boiled in slated water, dried like watermelon seeds, roasted and used as snack food.
The nutrient values per 100 g edible portion of the fruit contains substantial amount of vitamins and minerals.
Climatic and Soil Requirement
Squash can be grown in both wet and dry season. It has been reported that environment can have a marked effort development and quality of the fruit. The optimum monthly average temperature for good growth is from about 18 to 27°C. Likewise, warm temperature and low relative humidity favor good fruit-setting development and quality of the fruit.
It thrives on many types of soil but it grows well on organic-rich medium often found on compost or refuse heaps. A soil pH range of 5.6 to 6.5 is recommended.
- BPI Sq 1 (Golden squash) – creeping with small, round, golden color fruit. Tolerant to powdery mildew. Matures in 778-80 days from planting. Potential yield is 70-80 tons/ha. It has higher Vitamin A content. Its vine is short thus, more plants can be planted in the given area. Skin is smooth and very easy to peel and contains more sugar as compared to other variety.
- BPI Sq 2 – creeping with oblong fruit with cream stripe and green streak. The thin flesh is yellow to orange in color. It is tolerant to powdery mildew and matures in 95-100 days from planting. Potential yield is 60-70 tons per hectare.
- Sampuso – it is a medium early maturing cultivar adapted to both dry and wet seasons. The fruit is large, deeply ridged, heart shaped and has an average weight of 2.0 kg. It has smooth skin which is dark green in color with white speaks. The yellow orange flesh is thick and of good eating quality.
- Batac – a medium size variety and performs well both dry and wet seasons. The fruit is large, deeply ridged, flat rounded, smoothed-skined and has an average weight of 2.0 kg. It is dark green brownish orange speaks. Batac has yellow orange flesh is thick and of good eating quality.
- Rizalina – It is an OP variety, extremely vigorous with four to five fruits per plant; well adapted to both dry and wet seasons; highly tolerant to squash virus complex and downy mildew. Fruit is deeply rigged and flat round. Yellow orange flesh is suitable for baking and cooking purposes. Maturity days ranges from 102 days to 125 days from planting.
Squash can be grown with minimum tillage. Clear area and dig holes at appropriate distances. In open field, distance of 2-3 meters between hills is recommended. Field preparation for squash should be done by twice plowing and harrowing then furrow the field at 2 meters apart. Furrows are made with a native plow or machine tractor to a depth of 15 cm.
Planting and Spacing
To plant a hectare it needs about 2-4 kilos of good seeds. Squash are directly planted at the rate of 2-5 seeds per hill, spaced of 2-3 m between rows and 1 m between hills. One week after emergence, weak seedlings are thinned out and allow only 2 healthy seedlings to grow.
Transplanting is also recommended especially for F1 varieties to saved seeds and insured seedlings establishment. Sown the seeds in the seedbed and prick individually in the potlet. Transplanting is done 3 weeks after sowing.
Incorporate animal manure and other compost materials to the soil to improve soil structure.
source: DA-PCARRD – Bureau of Plant Industry