Delicata squash: why a difference in the skin?

Asked March 5, 2015, 4:45 PM EST

Hi, 2 years ago I grew delicata squash and was able to cut through the flesh to open it up (to remove the seeds, cut it up, etc...). This last year, the skin was rock hard and I could barely get a knife through it. It didn't seem as sweet either. Am I picking it at the wrong time? Any input is greatly appreciated!

Benton County Oregon squash harvesting horticulture

4 Responses

To answer your question I need to ask a question. You said you removed the seeds, are you reusing the seeds to grow new plants? When did you harvest the squash? Do you have cucumbers, pumpkin, other varieties of squash in your garden? When did you pick the Delicatas? Looking forward to hearing back from you!!

Hi,

I am using new seeds each year, purchased.

I am harvesting late summer, once the vine seems to die off.

I have other squash in my garden, but not in the same bed as the Delicata. The delicate were sharing spare this last year with peppers.

Thank you!

There are a couple of reasons why your squash may be different year-to-year.
1) the plants may be slightly different genetically. These are heirloom squash that are bred for seed production each year so there is some natural variability. Even within 'Delicata' there are color variations and variations in growth habit (bush-type vs. vining types of plants).
2) The maturity of the squash may be at play. Generally, younger squash have more tender skin so it could be that last year you harvested earlier.
3) The environment also plays into squash formation. Last year was very hot for longer than normal. That may have contributed to the squash developing a thicker skin.
Hope this helps and thanks for using Ask An Expert!

Thank you!