How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Harvesting and storing cucurbits

Cucurbits should be harvested as soon as they reach maturity. Leaving the fruit on the plant too long may result in excessively large squash, split melons, or fruit decay. It also results in fewer flowers developing later on and a yield reduction. When harvesting be careful to not damage the fruit or stems. Twist off the fruit, instead of cutting it, to avoid spreading disease.

Storage for most squash and cucumbers is short. They may be stored for a few weeks under refrigeration. Melons, too, lose color and crispness if stored too long. However, some melon flavor improves because some acidity may be lost in slightly immature melons. Hard melons such as the winter melons can be stored in cool conditions for many weeks.

Harvesting and storage tips

Cantaloupe Harvest melons when a slight crack completely circles the stem where it is attached to the fruit. For Honey Dew, Crenshaw, or Casaba, harvest when the fruit softens at the blossom end and starts to turn yellow.
Cucumber Harvest slicing types when they are 8 to 10 inches long; pickling types, at about 3 inches.
Pumpkin If planning to store, leave on the vine to mature. Mature fruits have hard outer shells.
Squash Summer squash is ready to be harvested 50 to 65 days after seeds are planted. Winter squash develops in about 100 days. If you wish to store squash leave it on the vine to mature
Watermelon To test melons for ripeness (about 90 days after planting), rap the side of the fruit with your knuckles. A light or metallic sound means that the fruit is still green; a dull sound means it is ripe. This test is most reliable in the early morning.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

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