Production Guide on Squash (Kalabasa), Disease and Harvesting

Irrigation

Vine crops like squash requires an abundant supply of moisture for their maximum plant and fruit development. Although it is tolerant to drought, but regular irrigation during dry season is highly recommended to obtain higher yield. Irrigate the field by furrow every 7-10 days interval especially during the critical stages such as at planting, vegetative, flowering and early productive stages. Do not irrigate when the fruits are already mature.

Mulching

Mulching can be made from rice straw, grass clippings and plastic to minimize weeds and to maintain adequate soil moisture. It is spread on surface of the ground around the plants.

Fertilization

The rate of fertilizer depends on soil analysis. For general recommendation, fertilized at planting time, early vegetative growth, flowering and fruiting stages. Apply four (4) bags of complete fertilizer at planting time by band placement together with animal manure, it must be mixed will the soil at the rate of 1-2 kg per hill, respectively.

As the runners are about 30 cms (approximately 2-3 weeks after planting), sidedress with 3 bags urea (45-0-0) at the rate of 1-2 tbsp/plant. When the vine of the plant reaches 90 cms (one month after planting), sidedress 1 bag muriate of potash (0-0-60) in 1-2 tbsp/plant. Additional urea and potash may be applied every 15 days whenever necessary. Weeding and Cultivation

The most common method of weeding and cultivation are hand pulling and hoeing. Cultivation starts when the plants are two weeks in order to control weed growth. Use an animal-drawn plow to lessen cost of weeding. Shallow cultivation is necessary before the vines cover the ground to keep the soil in good tilth, moist and free from weeds.

Pest and Disease Management

Pests

1. Yellow Squash Beetle (Ceratia similes Oliver). The beetle eat the leaves resulting in defoliation of young plants. Severely infested young plants often die while older plants are seriously affected.

Control: Spray any insecticides as soon as the pests damage appear. Repeat at 7-14 days interval depending on the intensity of infestation. Spray directly to the leavers, flowers and fruits. Strict sanitation is recommended.

2a. Aphids (Aphis gossypii Clover). Adults and young are tiny, green to black and soft bodied. The leaves become curled and distorted and tend to dwarfing of the plants.

Control: Spray any insecticides as soon as small colonies appear and repeat at 7-14 days interval. Spray directly to the leavers, flowers and fruits.

2b. Red Spider Mites (Tetronychides spp.). Adults and young are tiny, red or greenish red. If is found on the underside of the leaves. Yellow specks and web on the leaves is observe, plants become stunted which result to deformity of the fruits.

Control: Spray any insecticides as soon as the pests damage appear. Repeat at 7-14 days interval depending on the intensity of infestation. Spray directly to the leavers, flowers and fruits. Strict sanitation is recommended.

3. Squash vine borer (Apomecyna neglecta Pasc). Larvae is white in color, up 2.5 cms in length. The larva borer infest the vine, makes hole in stem near the base of runner resulting to runner wilts

Control: To effectively control the pests, start application when runners develop and/or before the pest borne into the stem. Repeat application once a week interval.

Diseases

1. Downy mildew (Pseudoperonospora cubensis Rostow) fungus. Appearance of yellow spots on the upper surface of the leaves and purplish mildew on the lower side. The affected plant will not to continue to flower and the develop fruits will be reach maturity.

Control: Spray with appropriate chemicals in controlling these diseases by following the manufacturer recommendation.

2. Powdery mildew (Erysiphe cichoracearun D.C.) fungus. The presence of talcum-like growth on the leaves surface and young stem is the first evidence of infection. Infected tissues may appear normal but later the spots will turn yellow and then dried up. The infected plants become stunted and the immature fruits force to ripen.

Control: When the disease starts to develop, spraying will be at 7-14 days interval. Use appropriate chemicals in controlling these disease by following the manufacturer recommendation.

3. Mosaic virus. Leaves on the older plants are mottled, distorted, wrinkled and the edges curled downward. The fruit has irregular pale green or white areas scattered with dark green spots. The younger internodes of the vines become stunted. Thus the young tip leaves form into rosette.

Control: Rogue the infected plants. Bury them or burn in an isolated place. Spraying with insecticides to control the insect vectors will minimize the spread of the disease.

Harvesting

Pre-mature harvest of the crop reduces its fruit quality, hence, harvesting should be done at the right stage. Harvest before fruits are fully ripe or when the peduncle starts to dry up. It is best to harvest the fruits with a portion of the peduncle attached to prolong storage life.

Fruits for vegetables are harvested before the rind begins to harden or approximately 40-100 days after planting while for seed purposes, harvesting should be done when the rind becomes hard and tough or about 120-130 days from planting.

source: DA-PCARRD – Bureau of Plant Industry

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