Because of the mildly sweet vegetable flavor of yellow squash, it’s no surprise that you’ll find it in many fresh salad dishes.
What’s more, it is fairly easy to grow.
Unlike pumpkins and winter squash that require a long growing season, yellow squash grows quickly.
When to harvest yellow squash? Yellow squash is ready to be picked once it grows six to eight inches long. At this point, you will want the rind to be young and tender, which you can check by trying to pierce through it with your fingernail.
How Do You Know When Your Yellow Squash Are Ready to Harvest?
It would be best to inspect your squash plants every day once they start flowering.
As a member of the summer squash family, yellow squash prefers the warmth of summer and will grow an inch or two each day.
So, once the summer season arrives, you can expect your squash plants to grow rapidly and produce fruits.
In fact, you will only have to wait 45 to 60 days from planting, and the fruits will be ready to harvest.
It’s very important to harvest the fruits regularly to encourage your squash plants to produce even more fruits.
But how do you know when they are ready to be picked?
Generally speaking, you can begin harvesting yellow squash when they reach six to eight inches in length.
For crookneck squash and other smaller squash varieties, harvest when they are four to seven inches long.
Like other summer squash varieties, you eat this fruit when its skin is still young and tender and its seeds still small.
You can check for this by pressing your fingernail onto the rind and through the flesh. Immature squash has skin that is very easy to pierce.
Aside from inspecting the rind’s thickness, also check if it’s firm (no soft spots or cracks) and rich in color.
The skin must also be non-glossy, while the stem is dry and firm.
What Happens If You Don’t Harvest Yellow Squash?
As mentioned, yellow squash grows quicker than other crops, so you have to pay attention to when exactly you should harvest them.
Besides, harvesting the fruits regularly will result in an even bigger yield.
What if you decide to leave them on the plant a little longer? What happens then?
Unfortunately, there’s a big chance that overgrown yellow squash might not be edible anymore.
If you delay harvesting them, the fruits will develop a hard rind that can be difficult to pierce through.
Like the rinds, the seeds will also grow bigger and harder.
Both of these will have a negative effect on the fruit’s flavor and texture.
What’s more, these overgrown squash fruits will take away moisture and nutrients from the plant, making it harder for it to produce new fruits.
How To Harvest Yellow Squash?
After all of your hard work comes the much-awaited harvest.
While this crop is relatively easier to grow than others, getting a big yield is still something to look forward to.
Since you already know how to determine when they are ready to be harvested, the next step is learning how to do it correctly.
Step 1: Gather the tools.
Using a sharp knife or a clean pair of pruners is your best bet when harvesting squash.
After all, the goal is to keep the stem intact so that it can protect the fruit from rotting and pests.
This way, your squash will last a little longer in storage than without it.
For this same reason, you might also want to wear your trusted pair of gardening gloves.
Step 2: Choose which fruits to harvest.
Even if you can eat yellow squash any time, you’d still want it to have the best flavor and texture.
As such, carefully inspect each plant and look for fruits that are ready to be picked.
You’d also want to have your produce basket close by so that you can carry your harvest to safety.
Step 3: Cut the stem.
Using a sharp knife or garden shears, cut the stem from the plant body, leaving at least two to four inches on the fruit.
Try your best not to jiggle the stem much since a broken one will hasten the fruit’s spoilage.
We also advise not to carry the fruits by their stem for this exact reason.
Should You Wash Yellow Squash After Harvesting?
Unlike winter squashes, summer squash does not have a thick enough rind to protect it from too much moisture.
And as you probably already know, excess moisture will cause produce to rot quickly.
For this reason, it is not advisable to wash yellow squash after harvesting. Instead, you can use a dry clean cloth to wipe away soil or dirt.
Do this as gently as you can so as not to damage the fruit’s tender skin.
You can then place them in a perforated plastic and store them in your fridge’s crisper drawer for up to four days.
Make sure you don’t store them with fruits or vegetables that produce ethylene gas, which hastens spoilage.
Only wash under cool, running water when you’re ready to use them in your recipes.
Can You Eat Yellow Squash Immediately After Harvesting?
Yellow squash belongs to the same family as zucchini, chayote, luffa, and crookneck squash.
And as you’ve probably noticed, these summer squash varieties all contain a high water content.
Because of this, you can’t expect them to store well like their winter counterparts.
Summer squash varieties don’t require curing before you can consume them. In fact, they are best eaten within a few days after picking.
They can only last in storage for no more than five days, so make sure you eat them within that timeframe.
While you can store them in the fridge, they might fare better if you leave them on the counter instead.
Too much humidity inside a refrigerator will make the flesh soggy and affect the flavor at the same time.
If you have extra squash from your harvest, you can give away some to neighbors and family or sell them at the farmer’s market for some extra cash.
You can grate and freeze them, but frozen squash often develops a mushy texture.
As such, you won’t have much use for them other than for making soups.
Is Yellow Squash Worth Growing?
If you’re looking for a crop that’ll produce nutrient-rich fruits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option than yellow squash.
Like other summer squash varieties, it packs high amounts of vitamins C, B6, and A, as well as folate, potassium, magnesium, and riboflavin.
It is also rich in manganese, which is known to assist the body in processing carbohydrates and fats.