Hand pollination of Squash

11 years ago

I thought IÂd take time to do a pictorial guide on hand pollination of squash. When I first wanted to hand pollinate, back in 1984, I remember frantically trying to get information and not knowing exactly where to turn. I had just joined the Seed Savers Exchange and heard about hand pollination but didnÂt know how to do it. I remember calling a couple of SSE members. Everyone was very helpful. But I had a difficult time picturing what I was told. Imagine how pleased I was when I received an SSE publication with full illustration of hand pollination!

That first year I didnÂt manage a successful hand pollination. But once I saw this technique illustrated I never had a problem. HereÂs some help for anyone else who might be wondering how to do it.

I always go out the afternoon beforehand and tape shut the flowers due to open the following morning. The main challenge with this is to recognize those flowers, as a prematurely taped flower will simply abort. The general rule I follow is that I can tape flowers after 2:30 PM up until dark.

Most varieties "yellow up" the day before. A few varieties hardly "yellow up" until the night before. But once I get to know a variety it isn't difficult to recognize the ones I need to tape shut. Notice in the above picture that there are both mature male and a female blossoms as well as some immature blossoms of both sexes. If you accidentally tape a flower not ready to open, just remove the tape in the morning. It will probably be okay.

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