encouraging female blossoms?

kristenmarie(Z4-5/New Mexico)August 19, 2005

Does anyone know a way to encourage more female blossoms on a squash plant? Mine are flowering away for 3 weeks now... hundreds of blooms... and only a handful of female....


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clip the male blooms and sell them. i sold mine for 50 cents a piece.
what varieties do you have?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 9:36AM
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kristenmarie(Z4-5/New Mexico)

That was my next question, actually - the going rate for squash blossoms. So 50 cents apiece. When do you clip them? The night before, only the blossoms just about to open, or do you clip them when they're already open? Also, does this in any way threaten the fertilization of the female blossoms? (I do have about 10 female blossoms on 12 plants). I'm wondering if there's a reason for the excessive numbers of male blossoms-- maybe you NEED 10 male for every 1 female to get good pollination rates?

This one isn't really for market this year-- just a trial (perhaps for next) -- it's an open-pollinated local heirloom winter squash. Really fun colors- white, green, orange, and every combination of the three.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 11:58AM
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i clipped them in the morning when they are open. i grew costata romanesco for them...it made for some big blossoms.
and pollinization isnt important unless you are growing for seed.
if you're gonna sell blossoms be prepared with recipe ideas.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 12:35PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

The first blooms are typically males. After that, the continuing production of males but no females is due to stress. Figure out what's not right with water, light, etc.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 12:55AM
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Just a comment about Randy's statement that you don't need pollination unless growing for seed. That's not really true. There has to be a reasonable amount of pollen transferred to the female flowers of the cucurbits (except the parthenocarpic types) for good fruit shape.

When you see dog-bone-shaped or extremely tapered fruits of squash and cukes, etc., that's usually the result of poor pollen distribution on the stigma. The poor distribution can be the result of inadequate amounts of pollen available, very low number of bee/insect visits, or even rain during the receptive time in the early morning. If there are lots of males, then you could easily harvest some without loss of squash harvest.

As Jean mentioned, there aren't many ways to increase female production. Usually the more you harvest, the more females are produced. Sometimes that even shuts down the formation of male blossoms. Should that happen, you can sometimes trigger male production by allowing female(s) to continue to grow beyond the typical small-harvest-size. In a small planting, one or two of these fruits left on longer may give you enough males for continued pollen production.

At least the larger fruits aren't a total loss as they can be harvested later for making zucchini bread.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 11:00PM
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i think you're right PAveggie. i was reading about pumpkins and how pollination will increase fruits per plant and their ultimate size. its even suggested that bee hives be moved into the area at the time that the plants start flowering. i also read that male flowers usually appear about a week before females. i've heard about moving bees into melon fields so this seems right.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 12:24PM
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