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Western SARE Project Number, FW06-042

Harvest Frequency, Yield, and Economics of Summer Squash

Observations and Recommendations

  1. The extra effort to grow mini squash was justified.  The time for harvest was not that great, although it required diligence to harvest daily.  (Weighing squash daily in 2006 was time consuming, but would not be part of normal harvest procedures).  If mini squash is sold for 5 – 8 for $1, the price per pound ($2 and $3) was considerably better than could be achieved with the sale of larger squash.  This study suggests that squash growers on small acreage should consider increased production of baby summer squash.
  2. An Enterprise budget for market garden production of summer squash suggests that in 2006 and 2007 my revenues compensated for production and marketing costs, but was not sufficient to cover fixed costs such as property tax, or unpaid labor.  I can gain sufficient revenues to pay for production and marketing costs, fixed costs, and unpaid labor if I double my production and charge more than $2.25 per pound.  This is a feasible goal with mini squash.  Increasing my yields will require starting my squash patch earlier in the season. 
  3. One trade off is that problems from squash bug pests are avoided by planting late.  I saw only one adult squash bug during the entire season in both 2006 and 2007. Pest management can be achieved by late planting. 
  4. Selling by numbers rather than weight was preferable for mini squash, and preferred by customers for all summer squash.  Large patty pan squash sold poorly.  Growers who plant these varieties are especially encouraged to harvest small fruits.  Monitoring size at which squash are harvested is encouraged as the basis for determining how many squash to sell for $1.00 when selling by numbers instead of pounds. 
  5. Grilling squash was not only productive in that our squash sold out completely the day we tried it, but we also had great fun and customers loved it.  To increase customers for projected increased yields, we will consider grilling some squash at market as a value-added product, as well as fresh produce. 

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This project was funded by a Farmer / Rancher grant from Western SARE, Project Number, FW06-042.

Special thanks to my husband, John Vinson, who helped with tilling, irrigation, weighing individual squash, and selling the squash at market.  Without his help and support I could never have completed this project. 

Thanks also to Beth Rasgorshek for grilling vegetables for us at the market, and to Janie Burns for loaning us the grilling equipment.  C.J. Soltis from Southwest District Health advised us on health issues for grilling, and approved our temporary food establishment license for the Nampa Farmers’ Market. Our neighbors, the Blancet kids, helped out with a couple of hours of a weeding marathon.  Dr. Brad Brown from the UI Parma Research and Extension Center advised on experimental design. 

 We also appreciate support from the Market Managers of the Nampa and Caldwell Farmers’ Markets, and all the vendors and customers who participated in our surveys, tasted and purchased our produce.

Follow the growth of my summer squash patch and market garden:

Read my "Pollination Moment" essays about squash pollination:
Squash Blossoms 
Squash, Beans and Deadheading Flowers 

Download a pdf of this report.
Download a pdf of the enterprise budget report.

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Contact information

Pollinator Paradise 
Karen Strickler
31140 Circle Drive 

Parma, ID 83660 

(208) 722-7808 

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Ariel Agenbroad, UI Extension Educator

University of Idaho Canyon County Extension

Kevin M. Laughlin, UI Extension Educator,

University of Idaho Ada County Extension



To enrich education through diversity the University of Idaho is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educational institution,
University of Idaho , Western SARE and U. S. Department of Agriculture Cooperating.

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Copyright © December 21, 2007, Karen Strickler.  All rights reserved.