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Squash not producing

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Post  southern gardener 6/7/2013, 12:33 am

I'm guessing "pollinator" can answer this. Does anyone know why some of the female flowers never produce fruits? It's not due to pollination, these baby fruits dont even have much of a flower yet. The baby fruit is shriveled up before the flower really even develops. I call them"DTD"...doomed to die. I have a spaghetti squash with a really nice sized squash developing, and several female flowers with fruits already shriveled up...and the flower isn't even close to being ready to open. Thanks for any help!
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Post  NAR56 6/7/2013, 10:50 am

My guess would be lack of pollination. This year I have to manually pollinate all my zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant. Other wise the female flower dries up and falls off. I have not see any bees this year at all Sad . Last Fall I let one of my broccoli go to flower for the bees hoping they would return in the Summer, but so far they have not.
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Post  quiltbea 6/7/2013, 11:11 am

Here is a video that shows the flowers do NOT have to be open to pollinate. I'd guess your prob is lack of pollination.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Rf36my2sdN4

It shows how to pollinate with a male flower, at the end half of this video. Very useful information.

Note: If the URL doesn't work, go to JUNE 2013 New England thread on page 2, near the bottom. The video is there.
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Post  southern gardener 6/7/2013, 2:47 pm

I thought I explained my question...but I guess not. The fruits are TINY with a TINY flower that has yet to even open...the flower and the fruits are still green. They are shriveled up before the flower has even developed enough to open. The fruit and flower never develop...they just shrivel up and die. What causes this??
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Post  TxGramma 6/7/2013, 4:48 pm

SG one of my squash plants did something similar. Actually, the first two female flowers that I got never opened up. But what was strange is that the squash kept growing, even turned yellow but was growing slower than several squash on my other plant that developed after them which opened and I pollinated. I kept waiting for the original two squash flowers to open but they never did so I finally pulled them open and pollinated them to be sure they would set and not lose them.

I know your situation is a little different from mine in that they are shriveling and dying before they open. But when I was looking around to find out why my flowers weren't opening I found a little info that might help you figure out what is wrong. It could be a watering problem...over or under watering putting the plant in stress either way. Extreme temps are another possibility over 85 can cause some fruit set problems in squash so be sure you are watering correctly and have mulch in place to keep the roots cool. The other possibility is over fertilizing or too much nitrogen in the soil.

Hope this helps some, it was frustrating when I was trying to find info on it as everything online kept saying it was a pollination problem when the question was about the fruit dying before the flower opened so like you I don't think it's a pollination issue.

Oh and in my case I also ended up with a squash vine borer in my vine right below the ones that didn't open it hadn't done enough damage yet to harm the plant but maybe that was enough stress on it to throw things off a little so you might want to check your stems really good to just in case you have some nasty little creatures helping themselves to your plant. Good luck.
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Post  southern gardener 6/7/2013, 6:08 pm

Thanks TXGrandma...Too much nitrogen...maybe? I just put some chicken manure/compost on them a couple of weeks ago since everything was starting to yellow pretty badly. What's strange is...there are nearby squash plants doing well, it's just this particular acorn squash and a "giant pumpkin" that's doing this......here's a couple of pics....

This is a healthy butterstick zucchini "baby" with flowers not yet opened, you can see the baby squash is nice and "plump"

Squash not producing Health10

This is the acorn squash babies...again, the flowers have not yet opened, yet the "babies" are all shriveled up

Squash not producing Shrive10
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Post  quiltbea 6/7/2013, 7:12 pm

Female fruits will always have a baby at their base that will plump up a little. If they don't get pollinated properly, they will eventually shrivel up and die. The flower doesn't have to be open for this to happen. If you have bees, they will climb right inside the partially closed flower blossoms. And if you hand pollinate, you spread the petals wide, brush the male poker over the center, and close up the petals when finished.
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Post  southern gardener 6/7/2013, 7:58 pm

as stated previously...these babies never even get close to having a mature flower. The tiny squash/flower shrivel up and die before there is any chance of pollination. The second picture isn't that clear, but the baby fruit is shriveled and the flower is about ready to fall off....never had a chance.......
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Post  mschaef 6/8/2013, 12:03 am

southern gardener wrote:as stated previously...these babies never even get close to having a mature flower. The tiny squash/flower shrivel up and die before there is any chance of pollination. The second picture isn't that clear, but the baby fruit is shriveled and the flower is about ready to fall off....never had a chance.......
This happened to me a couple of years ago, check the base and see if there is a vine borer that could have gotten to it. This happened to my pumpkin plants and since I already had two decent size pumpkins that I just let the plant go. When it finally died back enough I was able to check the base vine better and it was totally eaten affraid Really gross! Are any of the leaves turning yellow or is the plant giving any other sides of not being healthy?
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Post  TxGramma 6/8/2013, 1:52 am

After reading mschaef's post I would check your vines very carefully for vine borers. Wasn't sure that was what was causing mine to not open but...two of us with the same issue as yours and both plants had borers in them. thinking Even though your plant looks healthy and doesn't appear to be showing any signs, there could still be one of those nasty creatures in there affraid If that's what it is maybe you can still get a good harvest out of it.

If there's not any vine borers then the next thing I notice is that it is your two larger fruit varieties that are doing this so could be something off in the soil and these two are showing the stress more since they are supporting larger fruit.

Nice looking buttersticks. And a beautiful acorn squash...hope your able to get more like that soon.
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Post  GWN 6/8/2013, 10:33 am

WOW that is a great video, and that is exactly what I have been doing with my squash, feeling a little gross, the thing is that I did not know you could do it before the flower opened.
This morning though I have females that are open and males that are not ready yet.
They did not seem to have pollen on them..(the immature males) Do you think that they would still do the trick/
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Post  southern gardener 6/10/2013, 9:37 pm

welp....we've inspected the plants carefully, and there is no sign of squash borers. I don't even know if we have them in this area? So strange that some plants do this........
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Post  Pollinator 6/10/2013, 11:46 pm

southern gardener wrote:I'm guessing "pollinator" can answer this. Does anyone know why some of the female flowers never produce fruits? It's not due to pollination, these baby fruits dont even have much of a flower yet. The baby fruit is shriveled up before the flower really even develops. I call them"DTD"...doomed to die. I have a spaghetti squash with a really nice sized squash developing, and several female flowers with fruits already shriveled up...and the flower isn't even close to being ready to open. Thanks for any help!

I agree, it's not pollination. I have some female buds that have done the same thing. And I don't have the answer, other than to guess that it's due to plant stress. We have not had any squash bugs, nor borers, nor pickleworms, but the soil is waterlogged by the wettest season we've had in many years. The ones that do open, get the hand pollination treatment and have come on just fine. I've also been buzzing my tomato blossoms with a tuning fork, as they were dropping blossoms like crazy. Now they are loaded with fruit.

Wish I know the specific answer to your question. I'm sorry.
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Post  jazzycat 6/11/2013, 12:19 am

Pollinator wrote:
southern gardener wrote:I'm guessing "pollinator" can answer this. Does anyone know why some of the female flowers never produce fruits? It's not due to pollination, these baby fruits dont even have much of a flower yet. The baby fruit is shriveled up before the flower really even develops. I call them"DTD"...doomed to die. I have a spaghetti squash with a really nice sized squash developing, and several female flowers with fruits already shriveled up...and the flower isn't even close to being ready to open. Thanks for any help!

I agree, it's not pollination. I have some female buds that have done the same thing. And I don't have the answer, other than to guess that it's due to plant stress. We have not had any squash bugs, nor borers, nor pickleworms, but the soil is waterlogged by the wettest season we've had in many years. The ones that do open, get the hand pollination treatment and have come on just fine. I've also been buzzing my tomato blossoms with a tuning fork, as they were dropping blossoms like crazy. Now they are loaded with fruit.

Wish I know the specific answer to your question. I'm sorry.

A tuning fork! What a novel idea! Very Happy
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Post  southern gardener 6/11/2013, 1:13 am

Pollinator wrote: I've also been buzzing my tomato blossoms with a tuning fork, as they were dropping blossoms like crazy. Now they are loaded with fruit.

Thank you Pollinator for your answer, I appreciate it. What do you mean by buzzing your tomato blossoms with a turning fork? Thanks again!!


Last edited by camprn on 6/11/2013, 6:53 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : fixed quote box)
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Post  yolos 6/11/2013, 2:29 pm

I also have the problem with the female flowers not opening. I have had three so far. I have no males so I could not have hand pollinated anyway. The only thing different this year than previous years is the amount of rain we have gotten in the last month. I have not had to water in weeks. That is very unusual for this area. thinking
I also checked for SVB and there are no indications that they have attacked my squash.
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Post  Pollinator 6/11/2013, 11:39 pm

southern gardener wrote: What do you mean by buzzing your tomato blossoms with a turning fork? Thanks again!!

I just rap the fork against my thigh, or the tomato stake, then touch it to the tomato blossom stem. If it's ready, it will spew out pollen.

Tomatoes cannot release pollen without help, although they are self fertile. When the pollen is shaken loose, it flies down and some of it adheres to the stigma. You need two grains of pollen for each incipient seed. If not all the seeds are fertilized, you get blossom drop or undersized tomatoes.

In this case I'm the pollinator, by simulating a buzz pollinating bee. There's a myth around that tomatoes are self pollinating. That myth almost always oxymoronically comes up when the discussion is about why they aren't.
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Post  boffer 6/11/2013, 11:48 pm

Pollinator, is there a frequency range that you find works best?
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Post  Pollinator 6/12/2013, 11:02 am

boffer wrote:Pollinator, is there a frequency range that you find works best?


Middle C is the resonance frequency of the tomato flower. Other frequencies will work, but are not as efficient. I've tried Middle C on potato blossoms, and it does not work. The flowers are remarkably similar, but the potato blossom is quite a bit larger.
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Post  southern gardener 6/12/2013, 3:59 pm

Pollinator wrote:
boffer wrote:Pollinator, is there a frequency range that you find works best?






Middle C is the resonance frequency of the tomato flower. Other frequencies will work, but are not as efficient. I've tried Middle C on potato blossoms, and it does not work. The flowers are remarkably similar, but the potato blossom is quite a bit larger.

I am lost ...are you talking about a pitch fork?  Shocked


Last edited by southern gardener on 6/12/2013, 4:00 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : my response was put in the "quote" area???)
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Post  boffer 6/12/2013, 5:12 pm

SG, something like this:
Squash not producing Tuning10

I've always known them to be called 'tuning fork'.
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Post  southern gardener 6/12/2013, 5:17 pm

boffer...thank you...I think?  haha. I guess I'll just stick to the wind and such. I have no idea what that is. I also just saw it's a tuNing for, not a tuRning fork!  lol. I guess I need some glasses??What a FaceEmbarassed
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Post  quiltbea 6/12/2013, 10:44 pm

SouthernGardener....You don't need a tuning fork.  Just tap the branches with the blossoms a couple times a day.   Or give them a shake.
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Post  southern gardener 6/12/2013, 11:10 pm

quiltbea wrote:SouthernGardener....You don't need a tuning fork.  Just tap the branches with the blossoms a couple times a day.   Or give them a shake.
 now you're speaking my language! lol!!happy2happy2
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Post  Pollinator 6/12/2013, 11:55 pm

quiltbea wrote:SouthernGardener....You don't need a tuning fork.  Just tap the branches with the blossoms a couple times a day.   Or give them a shake.


It's been known for years that bee-pollinated tomatoes give greater yield. But recent research confirmed what I've always thought - that bee-pollinated tomatoes have better flavor.

That's why I've gone to the tuning fork. In the absence of bees, this is the best simulation.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20857738
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