The acorn squash is one of the most delicious and versatile vegetables available, thanks to the sheer number of dishes you can make out of it. You must have loved these vegetables so much that you decided to plant them in your garden and get to revel in the glory of gardening.
That said, as a beginner acorn squash farmer, you’ll need to learn how to tell if acorn squash is ripe. After all, an unripe acorn squash isn’t pleasing to eat in the slightest, and leaving the vegetable on your garden after it has ripened will cause it to start rotting.
Lucky for you, this guide boasts several tips and methods you can employ to always ascertain with incredible precision when your acorn squash is ripe.
But first, you’ll need to learn how to recognize when the acorn squash is set.
When Do Acorn Squash Fruits Set?
Like all their fellow squash plants, acorn squash plants boast both female and male flowers. Needless to say, the role of the male flowers is to produce pollen that pollinators will eventually collect and use to fertilize the female flowers.
Immediately after pollination, the female flower’s small base will start developing into acorn squash. The moment this fruit development starts is when the fruit sets in.
As a beginner acorn squash farmer, it also helps to understand the difference between female and male flowers on your plants.
Female flowers typically grow close to the squash plant’s center and aren’t usually as showy as the male flowers. The male flowers, on the other hand, tend to form skinny and long stalks all along with the squash plants, and there are huge numbers of them on any given squash plant.
After your Acorn Squash fruits sets in, you should be able to see the small embryos forming at the flower’s base.
How To Tell If Acron Squash is Ripe
Knowing when to harvest your acorn squash is anything but rocket science.
First off, you’ll need to start by checking the period the acorn squash you’ve planted is expected to spend till maturity. This information should be in the seed packet you took the acorn squash seeds out of. Why is checking this number of days important? Well, it’s because there are different varieties of acorn squash, and some tend to take longer than others.
Also, note that the climate in the region you’ve planted the acorn squash and the growing conditions you’ve subjected your acorn squash to may significantly affect how long it takes for your acorn squash plants to grow, produce fruits, and ripen the fruits.
Arguably the most accurate factor you can use to monitor your acorn squash’s growth and ripening process is to mark when the fruit sets in using the guide we’ve shared above. Most Acron Squash varieties will usually fully ripen between 50 and 55 days after the fruits have set.
Of course, there are additional factors you should track as well for an accurate timeline. These include the thickness of the acorn squashs’ skin as well as their colors.
You’re advised to start harvesting your squash fruits once their rind is hard and they develop a dark green shade. Also worth noting, as the ripening process begins, the ground spot where your acorn squash is literally sitting on the ground will transform from a sandy or pale yellow shade to an orange one.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, expect these ripening signs to start showing up in October or September, usually before the first fall frost. Still, remember that not all squashes will show ripening signs at this same time, even if they’re on the same squash plant.
To further double-check whether your acorn squash fruits are ready to harvest and ripe, press your thumbnail into the fruits’ skins. If your finger penetrates the fruit flesh without a hassle, the squash is likely fully mature. If you notice that you have to scratch the skin and push hard to penetrate, the squash isn’t ripe just yet.
With that in mind, if you notice that any fruit isn’t sufficiently ripe, do not harvest it. Let it sit on the vine or bush and give it all the time it requires to ripen before plucking. If you ever harvest your acorn squash fruits before they are fully mature and ripe, you’ll quickly learn that they won’t store as well as you’d like, and their flavors won’t be as great either.
Even more, if some of your squash fruits aren’t fully mature and you’ve noticed that a frost is fast approaching, your best bet is to cover the squash vines or bushes using a tarpaulin to protect your ripening fruits. Inspect these fruits from time to time but always remember to leave them fully covered. After harvesting your squash, you’re ready to get rid of the tarp.
Other times, you will notice that the stems and stalks of your acorn squash vine (as well as their leaves) have started turning brown and drying out. Even then, you’ll notice that the fruit remains attached to the plant’s main stem.
This happens after the squash fruits are fully ripe, which signals to the rest of the plant that its work is done and it can “switch off.” As such, in these cases, if you try lifting the squash fruits from the grown where they’re sitting, their stems will break and crack, proving that they were ready to get harvested. Also, please pick your squash fruits immediately you notice the plant’s stem and leaves turning brow lest they start deteriorating.
How To Harvest Acorn Squash
Carefully use a secateurs or sharp knife to cut the stem of the squash fruits from the bushes or vines. If you’d prefer to break the stems without pruning secateurs or shears, avoid yanking it and still be as gentle as possible.
If any of the harvested fruits are either getting too soft or cracking, cook them immediately. If any of them show rotting signs, you’ll need to chuck them out and place them on your compost heap.
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And that’s all for this guide on how to tell if acorn squash is ripe. As a beginner acorn squash farmer, employ these tips and tricks to the later, and rest assured you’ll never accidentally harvest substandard tasting acorn squashes.