This year, growers of summer squash can choose from a plethora of standard varieties. They can also select from introductions bred with improved fruit quality and various squash types new to their markets, as well as numerous varieties with disease packages. Traditionally bred, genetically engineered and certified organic seeds are also available.
Resistance to certain diseases that plague summer squash is difficult to attain in conventional breeding, so researchers developed the transgenic varieties. However, some states restrict sales or require comprehensive reporting on genetically engineered items.
Research continues on varieties to enhance all facets of summer squash production. Noted cucurbit breeder Dr. Brent Loy at the University of New Hampshire has developed Slick-Pik, a unique yellow straightneck summer squash. This variety, which should be available to commercial growers later this year, has a glabrous leaf stem, meaning it is shiny and smooth.
In contrast, the bristly spines on the stems of other yellow squash varieties make harvesting and handling a painful chore. The spines often inflict damage by touching adjacent fruit.
In trials, as YSN260, growers reported that once workers picked Slick-Pik, they didn’t want to touch any other kind of yellow squash. Hollar Seeds is producing the seeds, which will be distributed to their dealers.
The following new or relatively new varieties of summer squash should tempt growers this year:
• Cocozella 629 produces early, long, striped fruits with superior nutrition value. Bred by Israel’s Volcani Center—Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), Genesis Seeds produces the certified organic seeds. This hybrid variety resists powdery mildew.
• A Lebanese medium green squash flecked with light green, Cometa (AF 3477) offers 5-by-1.5-inch fruit on vigorous plants. Developed by Sakata, the bulb-shaped fruit has a long shelf life.
• Cute Fancy can be harvested about 55 days after sowing. Developed by Known-You Seed Co. in Taiwan, this whitish-green summer squash measures 18 by 4.3 centimeters, and weighs about 180 grams. With a dwarf habit, this hybrid has large leaves.
• Very dark green, glossy, 7 to 8-inch cylindrical fruits with a small end-scar, Harris Moran’s hybrid Elegance produces high packouts of zucchini main season fruits. Its open, erect plant facilitates harvesting, and its short internodes boost yields. It has intermediate resistance to powdery mildew, watermelon mosaic virus and zucchini yellow mosaic virus.
• Estrella (AF 3479), a Lebanese type by Sakata, yields well in both summer and winter squash-producing regions. Its 5-by-1.5-inch medium green bulbous fruit features excellent postharvest shelf life. The medium habit, vigorous plant yields in about 48 days.
• Goldy, bred by ARO, yields yellow fruit. Genesis Seeds produces the organic seeds of this cylindrical, glossy, golden zucchini hybrid.
• Early, medium dark green, shiny and flat, ARO-researched hybrid Green Scallop 1450 is included in Genesis Seeds organic squash lineup.
• Seminis’ Justice III is a highly productive, dark green hybrid zucchini with strong vigor. The cylindrical fruits measure 7 to 8 inches long, and have a smooth, glossy appearance. With a bush habit, Justice III also has transgenic resistance to cucumber, watermelon and zucchini yellow mosaic viruses.
Paycheck, developed by Syngenta, features intermediate resistance to powdery mildew plus cucumber, watermelon and zucchini yellow viruses. This Payroll-type medium green zucchini demonstrated adaptability, high yield potential and excellent fruit quality in Eastern trials. A hybrid, Paycheck also has the ability to maintain its 2-inch diameter shape and 7 to 8-inch length in cool and cold conditions. Produced in About 43 Days, the Open, Upright Plant has Reduced Spines.
• Reward features an open plant for easy harvesting. An early, high yielder, it is adapted to double-row plantings, both in summer and early fall. The slightly tapered, 8-inch medium dark green, glossy fruit with a small end scar yields high packouts when knife-cut. Bred by Harris Moran, this zucchini has intermediate resistance to powdery mildew, plus cucumber, watermelon and zucchini yellow mosaic viruses.
• Seminis’ latest zucchini, Quirinal (PS 04825847), is a green zucchini for open field crops in the main to late season. Its vigorous, open and erect plant habit with short internodes makes its cylindrical, slightly tapered, green, glossy fruits easy to hand-harvest. It has intermediate resistance to zucchini yellow mosaic virus, watermelon mosaic virus race 2 and powdery mildew.
• Sarah, a Middle Eastern tapered, pale green with light flecks, 6-inch-long squash produces heavily with extended harvests. In trials as HMX 1715, this Harris Moran mid-early variety features a strong plant and fruit that picks easily. It has intermediate resistance to zucchini yellow mosaic virus and watermelon mosaic virus, plus powdery mildew and papaya ringspot.
• SSX 6746, a Caserta type by Sakata, has high yield potential. The slightly bulbous fruit can be twisted off, plus its open plant habit makes harvesting even easier. The medium green with dark stripes, 7-by-2-inch fruit is ready in 45 days.
• From ARO research, organically produced Genesis Seeds’ Summer 705 yields short, cylindrical, light green fruits. This hybrid resists powdery mildew.
• Another dwarf hybrid summer squash bred by the Known-You Seed Co., Sweet Fancy has thick stems and short vines. The light green fruit, about 19 by 4.8 centimeters and 280 grams, produces fruit in about 45 days.
• Yellow Scallop 1566, another ARO-bred variety produced organically by Genesis Seeds, has demonstrated early productivity. The shiny yellow fruit displays an eye-catching flat scallop shape.
• Genesis Seeds’ Zucchini 663 resists powdery mildew. Organic and part of ARO’s research, this hybrid consistently yields straight, cylindrical, glossy dark green fruits.
Note: Seeds of these varieties are available through dealers such as Gowan, High Mowing Seeds, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Harris Seeds, Keithly-Williams, Rupp Seeds, Rispens, Seeds of Change, Seedway, Siegers and more. Most companies list their dealers on their Web sites.
The author is a writer/researcher specializing in agriculture.