A step by step guide to Squash farming in polyhouse
Well, do you want to get help for Squash farming in polyhouse? we are here to guide you on growing squash from seeds. Squash is viny, creeping and trailing crop-producing fruit and considered to be one of the most delicious vegetables. It is the most frequently and regularly grown among the cucurbits because it is a rich source of vitamin A, phosphorus and calcium. Squash is a warm-season crop and is an herbaceous annual vine. Its fruits come in different variety of shape, size, and color. The Squash crop belongs to the family of Cucurbitaceae. The young and tender shoots make vegetable salads.
Different varieties of Squash:
There are two types of Squash varieties. They are,
- Summer squash and
- Winter squash
Summer squash varieties are large and bushy. These squash types of plants do not spread as the vine types do. There are some types of summer squash which come in a variety of shapes and colors. The most common types of summer squash include:
Most winter squash varieties are vine plants and will spread throughout the crop. Winter squash is often categorized according to fruit size and there are several sizes, shapes, and colors obtainable. Some winter varieties include:
Squash cultivation in polyhouse:
- Polyhouse farming is a cultivation of crops under complete controlled environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, and fertilizers, etc with the automated system.
- Better quality of the Squash crop as it is maintained in controlled environmental conditions.
- Increasing the production capacity of Squash crop plants by decreasing the cropping time.
- Excellent water drainage and aeration system.
- Ease of handling, grading and transporting of crop products.
- Easy application of chemicals and fertilizers through fertigation in drip irrigation.
Temperature requirement for Squash farming in polyhouse:
Squash can be grown in both the wet season and dry season. It has been reported that the environment can have a marked influence on the growth and quality of the fruit. The optimum monthly average temperature for excellent growth is from about 18°C to 27°C. Likewise, warm temperature and low relative humidity favor good fruit-setting growth and quality of the fruit.
Plants are generally killed by one hour or more of frost (temperature below 0°C). Therefore, plant in the field when soil temperatures are high enough for good germination and all chances of frost have passed. For early summer squash production, plastic mulch and row covers will raise soil temperatures and provide some frost protection.
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Site and soil requirement for Squash farming in polyhouse:
Squashes produce well on most well-drained soils. Sandy loams are ideal and they also grow well on clay soils, but harvesting is difficult when soils are wet and the fruit often becomes dirty and difficult to clean. Avoid production on low-lying fields where plants are subject to late spring or early autumn frosts.
Most soils are excellent for Squash production as long as the soil is well-drained, fertile, and there is no salt build-up. Squash plants can be sensitive to residual soil herbicides, so pay special attention to tunnel site selection if constructing a tunnel where herbicides have been used in the past.
Soil preparation for Squash farming in polyhouse:
Squash can be grown with minimum tillage and clear the area and dig holes at appropriate distances. In an open field, a distance of 2 to 3 m between hills is recommended.
Field preparation for Squash must be done by plowing twice and harrowing, then furrow the field at 2 m apart. Furrows are prepared with a native plow or machine tractor to a depth of 15 cm.
Squash seeds germination process:
Squash seeds germinate best when soil temperatures are between 70 to 95°F, with 95 degrees being the optimal temperature.
Squash seeds are large up to 3 cm long. Squash seeds will germinate at 15°C but germinate best at 29°C to 32°C. Squashes grow best at a temperature range of 23°C to 29°C and 15°C to 21°C. Growth virtually stops at temperatures below 10°C and the plants can be severely damaged and maturity could be delayed by temperatures below 5°C for several days.
One of the fastest ways to germinate Squash seeds is to start them in polyhouse. A heating pad set on low, a radiator or even the top of the refrigerator give heat to keep the germinating seeds warm. Once seeds germinate, though, it’s best to decrease temperatures slightly.
Squash need an abundant supply of moisture for their maximum plant and fruit growth. Although it is tolerant to drought, regular irrigation during dry seasons is highly recommended to get a higher yield. Furrow irrigation of the field must be applied after every 7 to10 day interval, especially during the critical stages such as at planting, vegetative, flowering and early productive stages. Do not irrigate when the fruit is already a mature stage.
Squashes are moderately deep-rooted and can tolerate dry conditions fairly well. However, extended dry periods will result in poor fruit set and poor fruit development and size. Plants tolerate wet conditions moderately well, but foliar diseases and fruit rots increase. Plants form adventitious roots at the notes and these help with water uptake.
Summer squashes are particularly susceptible to drought because the fruit develops and is harvested within a few days of pollination. Lack of sufficient moisture often effects in poor or irregular fruit development.
Drip irrigation is the most effective method for irrigating Squashes in poly houses. In combination with the plastic mulch, there are many advantages of drip irrigation;
- Increased water-use efficiency;
- Uniform moisture supply; and
- Facilitated distribution of water-soluble fertilizers and pesticides
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Hand weeding and hoeing must be done to control the weeds. Shallow cultivation must be done for the 2-week old plant to control the weed growth.
General care and maintenance Squash vines are sprawling and need plenty of space to grow. Vines can be trained to produce on a trellis or fence. Squash need a continuous supply of water and plants should be watered deeply once per week, providing at least an inch of water. Shallow watering or watering less regularly encourages a shallow root system. Mulches can be used to conserve soil moisture and black polyethylene mulch has the benefit of warming the soil. All squash varieties create both male and female flowers and are pollinated by insects such as bees.
Pests and diseases of Squash:
Plant diseases may impact squash production in polyhouse. The incidence of pests and diseases can be reduced by;
- Planting a certified disease-free seed,
- Planting squash in warm, light, well-drained soils,
- Keeping water from splashing on squash foliage,
- By avoiding plant overcrowding (weed and properly thin), and
- Cleaning up any plant debris.
Several common diseases and insect problems may encounter growing squash are;
Powdery Mildew disease is a fungal disease that appears as white powdery mildew on the upper leaf surface.
Downy Mildew appears as yellow or brown color spots on the upper leaf surface. A gray fungus is apparent on the lower leaf surface, mainly in wet humid weather.
Viral Diseases are the most limiting factor to Squash production in polyhouse, mainly during summer and fall months. Many viruses cause diseases in squash. Symptoms contain a mosaic pattern on leaves that in severe cases causes a shoestring effect. Warty green areas can appear on the Squash fruit of yellow summer squash.
Squash fruits are generally picked 2 or 3 times per week when fruits are 4-6 inches long. High-quality Squash fruits are tender, have a shiny or glossy appearance and the seeds are immature. Actual size for harvest will depend on the market but are normally picked after the flower opens. Since the skin on young squash fruits is very tender and simply scratched, growers often wear cotton gloves when picking. For optimum quality, harvest while Squash fruits are tender and still have a shiny or glossy appearance. When harvesting squash, leave a small piece of the stem attached to the fruit. Fruits are normally cut off the vines and flowers can be removed or left on before marketing.
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