osp -Organic Seed Partnership

Winter Squash: High Quality Winter Squash with Long Term Storability

To improve the post-harvest quality and longevity of butternut squash we will use a three tiered breeding systems approach:

  1. Trialing existing high quality squash that may store well,
  2. Breeding for resistance to diseases that affect storage and quality
  3. Cultural practices to improve post-harvest quality by reducing fruit injury and disease

This project will integrate on-farm evaluations by stakeholders to guide work.

Identification of butternut with exceptional post-harvest storage and quality:

  • Numerous butternut squash varieties are noted for their exceptional post-harvest storage, yet this is and aspect of squash production growers routinely note is problematic. We will evaluate the quality and retention of quality during storage of a panel of butternut squash that are currently popular among organic growers, such as 'Waltham', those noted as storing well, and advanced breeding lines to provide an objective characterization of this trait in butternut. The best cultivars will be trialed an additional year to confirm their performance. Grower input at this stage will be critical because this is the period when breeding parents will be selected.

Introducing Fungal Resistance into Well-storing Squash:

  • During the first season the butternut varieties in the trial will also be grown on a separate plot for crosses. F1 squash will be self-pollinated the first year and those from crosses between PMR squash and those performing best in the storage evaluations will be grown as F2 plants in the field. Powdery mildew resistant plants will be self-pollinated and evaluated as F3 families the following year Selections will be made after storage and the best lines will be increased to the F5 stage the following summer. Concurrently, a powdery mildew resistance will be backcrossed into 'Honey Nut', a new Cornell variety that performs well despite lacking this resistance.

Key Personnel: Dr. Michael Mazourek, Cornell University and Dr. James Myers, Oregon State University


We acknowledge support from the USDA, NIFA, Organic Research and Education Initiative Award No. 2009-51300-05585.





Plant Breeding

Vegetable Trials

Seed Production



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