No fruit yet on squash or zuch vines

mlcopeland(7A)June 18, 2014

Last year we had bumper crop of both yellow crookneck and zucchini. This year, same seeds as last year, MASSIVE VINES and HUGE LEAVES (due to all the rain) but not a single piece of fruit has set yet.
We get dozens of huge yellow flowers every morning, both male and female (although mostly male), but nothing has set.

Is this just a different kind of year?
Is anyone else in NE Oklahoma seeing much fruit setting on crookneck and zucchini yet?
SHOULD I JUST BE PATIENT!!!!?!?

Thanks for any feedback. Non of my neighbors are gardners and I haven't found anyone else to ask.

Oh, in the Bartlesville area.

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tulsastorm(z6 Tulsa OK)

It may take a few days for the bees, ants, etc. to find the blooms and pollinate them. In the meantime, squash is crazy easy to pollinate yourself because of the large blooms. Pick off a male bloom, strip off the petals, and insert it into a female flower (on the end of a baby squash). You should have ripe squash in a few days.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 11:21AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

You could try being patient but I don't know if it will fix what is wrong. Since your plants are flowering and the flowers aren't setting fruit, the likely culprit is a lack of bees and other pollinators. Are you seeing bees or other pollinators buzzing around the flowers? If not, for whatever reason, they are not present and you won't get fruit set until they appear, unless you hand-pollinate the flowers yourself.

Hand-pollinating is easy. You either can transfer pollen from a male female to a female flower (or to multiple female flowers) with a small paintbrush (I use the type that come in a child's watercolor paint set or a q-tip. Sometimes I just pluck the male flower off the plant and then "dab" the center of the female flowers with the male flower. One male flower can pollinate a lot of female flowers.

If the problem is an absence of bees and pollinators, and it is a persistent problem all summer, you might want to try to figure out why they aren't visiting y'all this year. It could be that your area is staying persistently cool and cloudy, which often causes lower activity by bees and pollinators. It could be a local municipality is spraying for mosquitoes and inadvertently harming the bees. Sometimes it is just hard to figure out why they aren't showing up, but generally it relates either to cool, rainy weather or to someone using pesticides.

I grow lots of plants with tiny flowers specifically to attract bees, so never have a pollination issue, but a gardening friend who lives less than a mile from me says the bees have been largely AWOL at his place this year---and we don't have issues with it being cool, cloudy, and rainy. We mostly are hot, dry and remain in extreme drought despite some decent rainfall about 9 or 10 days ago.

If you have, by chance, used a broad-spectrum insecticide in your yard or garden, there is a chance it killed the bees and other pollinators, or if a neighbor used one, the same thing could have happened. Sometimes it just happens that something very attractive is in bloom nearby and they are more attracted to it than to what is blooming in your garden. I've noticed that when I have pinkeye purple hull and other southern peas in bloom the pollinators flock to the peas and ignore many other things.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 11:27AM
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mlcopeland(7A)

Thanks for the feedback!
My wife has been checking on the vines early in the morning for several weeks (since mid May) and she says there have been very few, maybe 5 or 6, female blooms. She also noticed that when there is a female bloom, the flower doesn't open like the male blooms do. I suspect that is normal...?
Anyway, the female blooms appear, then wither and drop off a day or so later. Will try picking a male bloom and impersonate a bee!
Haven't seen many bees, or butterflys, this year. Maybe due to wetter weather the past month.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 12:36PM
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