How big should my squash be before i pick it?

May, 2022
Darren Spalding

In an ideal growing season, the pumpkin ripens on the vine and the stem begins to dry out and turn brown. This means that the best time to harvest squash of this variety is at the very end of the growing season, right at the time of the first frost. In the photo above, the pumpkin on the right is ready to harvest, but the pumpkin on the left is still growing. Overly ripe yellow squash develops a hard skin and seeds that spoil both the texture and taste of the vegetable.

Check plants frequently and harvest three to four times a week as squash will develop shortly after the flowers appear.

Can you choose a squash too early?

Acorn squash will develop a golden yellow or orange spot on the underside when it is ready to harvest. If you pick too early, the pumpkin will not be ripe and sweet on the inside, and staying on the vine for too long may result in rotten squash. The uncooked meat is so firm that it's hard to cut, but once cooked, it becomes soft, creamy and much sweeter than any summer squash. Whether you're growing acorns, butternut, delicata, turk's cap or any of the dozens of other varieties of winter squash, the most important part of enjoying the harvest is knowing exactly when and how to pick the fruit from the vines.


winter squash does not continue to ripen once the fruit has been cut off the vine. It is therefore important to plan your harvest correctly.

How big should my squash be before I choose it?

The skin should have a dull green tinge (not shiny) and be very hard - difficult to pierce with a fingernail. Harvest the winter squash when the peel is deep in color and thick enough that you can't break it with your fingernail. You can also sow your pumpkin seeds in or in a heated greenhouse 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost date. Pick peas when the pods are plump and rounded but before the pods wrinkle on the stem and take on a dull whitish imprint.

Once they've settled a pumpkin plant, they can be difficult to control, but organic methods include prevention and physical controls.

How do you know when it's time to pick yellow squash?

Now you know when to pick, how to eat and how to store summer squash, but there is still one piece of the puzzle missing as to how to harvest it. The size of summer squash can get pretty big, but you'll enjoy it more if you pick it small. With the same philosophy, you can harvest summer squash when it is the size of a tennis ball and scalloped squash when it is 3 to 6 in diameter. If you miss a large pumpkin and need to pick it late, hold the stem with one hand and the pumpkin with the other hand.

Does the pumpkin ripen from the vine?

Required but never displayed To subscribe to this RSS feed, copy and paste this URL into your RSS reader. The curing process extends the shelf life of pumpkins. It hardens the skin of the vegetable, heals wounds, and ripens immature fruits. Many fruits and vegetables continue to ripen after harvest, but this does not apply to winter squashes, including butternut squash. Check your pumpkin occasionally and turn it every few days to make sure it ripens evenly.

Squashes and squash are warm-season plants that are sensitive to temperatures below 45°F and should be harvested before frost.


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