ESSENTIALS OF FARMING BUTTERNUT.

ESSENTIALS OF FARMING BUTTERNUT.

Butternut or squash farming is gaining currency especially as demand for the product increases locally and internationally. As a plant that has its origins in Mexico, the butternut squash has become a culinary delight for many Kenyans who love its nutty taste. Butternut pumpkin is pear shaped golden yellow fruit that has a shelf life of up to six months compared to normal pumpkins that can be stored for three months. It is resistant to diseases such as powdery mildew, cucumber mosaic virus and cucumber beetles.

It is used to wean babies since it’s easy to cook, mash or blend. It’s a great source of complex carbohydrates and fiber as well as high in potassium, niacin, beta carotene and iron.

Planting Butternut Squash

Butternut squash plants are extremely tender and the seedlings will freeze with the slightest frost and seeds will only germinate in warm soil.

Like most other vining vegetables, butternut squash cultivation begins with a hill. Draw your garden soil into a hill about 18 inches high. This allows the soil to heat around the seeds and roots. Your soil should be well amended and well fertilized since butternut squash plants are heavy feeders.

Plant five or six seeds per hill about 4 inches apart and 1 inch deep. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. In about 10 days, the seeds will sprout. When they’re about 6 inches high, thin out the weakest leaving three plants per hill. The butternut squash growing season is about 110-120 days for fruit maturation

Fertilize well throughout the butternut squash growing season. Regular feeding will produce the most abundant crop as will keeping the hills weed free. Butternut squash cultivation should be done by hand or with a hoe. Don’t cultivate too deeply since the roots are shallow.

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Required soil
In growing butternut, good soil plays an important role.
Butternut grows best when the nights begin to warm and soil temperatures are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. With nutrient-rich soil that retains the right amount of moisture, the squashes can be ready for harvest between three to four months.:
Clear the space meant for planting in case the entire farm is not ploughed. Farms which are not ploughed will require opening up two centimeters deep holes in rows maintaining 45cmx45 cm spacing. Best results are obtained on well drained fertile soils, with high organic matter and a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5.
It is important to apply phosphorous and potassium fertiliser to enhance the fruiting process.

Spacing

Varieties with shorter runners can have rows closer together – about 1,5m apart. The optimal spacing for those that produce normal runners will vary according to cultivar.

For example, a variety that produces three or so fruit on a runner relatively close to the crown will continue growing for some length without allowing more fruit to develop until the leaf area is again sufficient for further fruit.

In this case, you should plant them closer if you want to harvest only the first flush. The second flush will mature much later and this may not suit you

butternut used to beautify

Harvesting Butternut Squash

It’s time for picking butternut squash when the rind is hard and they have turned a deep, solid tan. Your squash will be ready for harvesting when the skin turns hard and is difficult to pierce with your thumbnail.

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It’s best to leave the majority of your crop on the vine until late September or October to ensure the thick skins necessary for winter storage, but make sure you have your butternut squash harvest in before the first frost.

For consultancy services on fruits farming, planting, management and marketing of the produce, call us on 0712 075 915 / 0783 710 808.our website is www.oxfarmorganic.co.ke

 

 

 

 

 

 

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