Wednesday, February 28Food Security Matters

Squash Farming: How to Plant and Grow Kalabasa for Profit

Squash is one of the most important vegetables found in the Philippines and squash farming is also one of the most popular agribusinesses. In this article, we will explore squash farming, how to do it, and its profitability.

Are you looking for a profitable crop that does not require a lot of tending or special skills? Squash is the perfect crop to consider! Squash farming is a great way to make extra money, both at the local and national levels. This comprehensive guide takes you through the steps of planting squash for maximum profit, from preparing for planting to caring for your crops to harvesting and selling. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced farmer, this guide has all the information you need to get started with squash farming and make a good profit.

squash-farming
Squash (Kalabasa)

Introduction to Squash Farming

The Filipinos have a special affinity for squash (Cucurbita maxima L.), locally known as “kalabasa”. Its shoots, flowers, and young fruits can be used to prepare dinengdeng, bulanglang, or stir-fries with meat, fish, or shrimp combined with other vegetables. The fruits of the squash plant can also be made into catsup, pastillas, leche flan, flour for bread, chips, and curls. Additionally, the seeds can be used for kutchi.

Squash is well renowned for its array of vitamins (A, C, B1, B3, B5) and minerals; it includes Beta carotene which is an effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Squash brings health benefits such as cancer prevention, lung disease prevention, high blood pressure prevention, and keeping cholesterol oxidization in check. Moreover, squash has potassium that reduces urinary calcium excretion.

Soil and Climatic Requirements

Squash thrives in any type of soil. It performs best, however, in well-drained, sandy loam and clay loam soils with a pH levels of 5.5 to 6.5. The crop requires a relatively dry warm climate which is essential for fruit set. The optimum temperature for good crop growth ranges from 18-30⁰C. Generally, squash is planted from October to December in the lowland areas and May to July in the highland areas.

Varietal Selection

Select varieties that are adaptable to local conditions, and resistant to insect pests and diseases, with market preference. Squash varieties
are listed in Table 1.

squash varities

Squash Farming Process

Land Preparation

Prepare the field thoroughly to obtain good soil tilt.

  1. Plow the field 2-3 times at one-week intervals to prevent the growth of weeds. Plow at a depth of 15-20 centimeters for better root penetration.
  2. Harrow every after plowing to pulverize and level the field. A well-pulverized soil promotes good soil aeration and enhances root formation.
  3. Make furrows after the last harrowing at a distance of 2.0 – 3.0 meters (m) apart.
  4. Construct drainage canals to prevent water logging during the rainy season. Zero tillage can also be applied in squash production.
  5. Clear the area by cutting the weeds manually.
  6. Dig holes at a depth of 10 cm spaced at 3m.
  7. Pulverize the soil to facilitate seed germination.

Fertilizer Application

The fertilizer requirement of the crop depends on the result of soil analysis. You can submit your soil for analysis at your local DA office.

In the absence of soil analysis, incorporate with the soil fully decomposed farm manures, compost, or organic fertilizer at the rate of 1-2 kg/hill before planting. Add 10 grams (g) or one (1) tbsp of complete fertilizer (14-14-14) per hill and cover with fine soil.

To sustain the nutrient needs of the plants, side-dress one (1) tbsp of urea per hill one month after planting or when the plants have produced vines about one meter long. Apply 10 g or 1 tbsp of potash (0-0-60) per two (2) weeks after the first side-dressing. The additional amount of urea or potash at 1 tbsp per hill may be applied every 15 days depending on the crop stand.

Planting

Squash can either be direct-seeded or transplanted. The transplanting method is recommended for hybrids to save on seeds and ensure seedling survival. A one (1) hectare arm requires 2-2.5 kg of seeds.

To facilitate germination, soak the seeds overnight with clean water. Wrap with a moist cloth and place in a dark and cool place until the seed coat breaks or the radicals have emerged. Plant 1-2 pre-germinated seeds per hill at a distance of one meter. Cover the seeds with fine soil.

During the wet season, plant squash in raised beds or in ridges to prevent the rotting of seeds or seedlings due to flooding.  For the transplanting method, grow seedlings in pot lets or seedling trays.  Prepare growing media of one part compost or organic fertilizer, one part garden soil and one part carbonized rice hull (CRH) (1:1:1 ratio). Mix thoroughly.

Fill the pot let or seedling trays with the prepared media. Water the potting media before sowing. Sow one pre-germinated seed per potlet at least 1-2 cm deep and cover with fine soil. Place the potlets or seedling trays under a temporary shade. Water the seedlings regularly. Before transplanting, harden the seedlings by gradually reducing the frequency of watering and exposing them to direct sunlight.

Seedlings are ready for transplanting 10-15 days after emergence (DAE) or when true leaves have developed. Transplant one seedling per hill at a distance of one (1) meter between hills. Transplant in the afternoon or during cloudy days to prevent transplanting shock. Replant missing hills.

Irrigation

Water is very important in crop production. Squash needs water, especially during the fruiting stage. Furrow irrigation is recommended in large-scale production. For backyard gardening, use a sprinkler or any modified irrigation system. Irrigate the plants once a week or water the plants with one liter per hill every other day. Water the plants every after fertilizer application to prevent leaf injury. Withhold watering or irrigation when the fruits have reached the mature green stage because irrigating the plants at this stage results to lower fruit quality.

Pruning

Pruning or removal of all the lateral branches and female buds below the 8th node is a practice to enhance fruit development. Remove all deformed fruits while still small to avoid nutrient competition. Place 5-6 cm thick of bedding materials like straw, and rice hull beneath the good fruits to prevent contact with the soil that could possibly result in rotting.

Pollination

Squash needs pollination for the development of the fruits. Insect pollinators are the common aides in the pollination of squash. However, to increase squash fruit setting, practice hand pollination by inserting the male flower of the same age into the female flower between 6:00 to 8:00 in the morning.

Weeding and Cultivation

Weeding is necessary, especially during the early growth stage of the crop. For backyard gardening, remove weeds in between plants at 7-14 DAE. Practice regular weeding to minimize the growth of weeds that could serve as pests’ habitats. In large-scale production, off-bar 15-20 DAT and hill-up 10 days later. Pull remaining weeds in between plants after hilling up.

Pests Management

Field sanitation is recommended to minimize the occurrence of insect pests and diseases. Aphids and 28-spotted lady beetle are the most prevalent insect pests of squash throughout the year. Powdery mildew is a common disease of squash but the most damaging disease is the mosaic virus. Prevent the occurrence of pests by practicing field sanitation, plant-resistant varieties, crop rotation, and as a last recourse, spraying insecticide/fungicide following the manufacturer’s recommended dosage. In case of viruses, pull and burn infected plants.

Harvesting

Harvest immature fruits at 30 to 40 days from pollination. This is the best stage of the fruit that are usually used for food preparation. Cut the peduncle using a knife with a portion still attached to avoid fruit damage. For seed purposes, harvest fully matured fruits. This is determined by the appearance of a powdery whitish substance on the surface of the fruit and the hardening of the rind. At this stage, the seeds are already matured and fully developed.

cost and return analysis for squash

You can download the PDF format of this squash farming and production guide here

Questions Related to Squash farming

What month do you plant squash in the Philippines?

The crop requires a relatively dry warm climate which is essential for fruit set. The optimum temperature for good crop growth ranges from 18-30⁰C. Generally, squash is planted from October to December in the lowland areas and May to July in the highland areas.

What is the average yield of squash per hectare in the Philippines?

Yields may range between 10,000 to 15,000 kg per hectare.

How long does squash take to fully grow?

Most summer squash varieties will be ready to harvest about 60 days after planting. To harvest, simply cut fruits from the vine once they are 6–8 inches long. If you wait much longer, they will become less tender and flavorful. Winter squash is a little different.

How long do squash plants produce fruit?

Harvest Period: In fertile soil, with proper care and frequent harvest, and depending upon variety and growing conditions, summer squash usually remains productive for at least 2 months, and often 3 to 6 months.

How much is squash per kilo in the Philippines?

The average retail price of squash per kilogram for 2022 and 2021 was closer to PHP 35 and 40., respectively. In 2020, the lowest and highest prices per kilogram were in March and December at PhP 21.50 and P38.

How many squashes will one plant produce?

How many squashes do you get per plant? For butternut squash, you can expect 5 or 6 fruits per plant through the growing season, for some larger squash and pumpkins you may only get 2 to 4.

Is squash seasonal in the Philippines?

Squash is available in the Philippines all year round.

Is kalabasa a pumpkin or squash?

Calabaza is the generic name in the Spanish language for any type of winter squash. Within an English-language context it specifically refers to what is also known as the West Indian pumpkin, a winter squash typically grown in the West Indies, tropical America, and the Philippines. It is called Kalabasa in the Philippines.

Are squash and kalabasa the same?

Squash Golden Delicious- Squash (Cucurbita maxima) also known as kalabasa, is a very rewarding vegetable crop that can produce a bountiful harvest with such little effort. It is ready for harvest as early as 80 days from the date of sowing when the fruit surface becomes hard and shows a powdery/whitish substance.

See Also:

 

Facebook Comments Box

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *