Friday, August 5, 2016

A Snag in my Zucchini Breeding Project

Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans.

Here's a quick update on how the zucchini breeding project has gone. It looks like this is going to take longer than I thought.

Since summer squash usually put out male flowers before female flowers, I planted Tatume a couple of weeks earlier than Costata Romanesca this spring, since I wanted to use Tatume as the female parent. What I need for that is male flowers on CR and female flowers on Tatume at the same time.

The Tatume plants were up and growing when I planted Costata Romanesca, but as soon as the CR seeds sprouted, they started growing very fast.

By the time CR started making male flowers, Tatume just started making vines.

By the time CR started making female flowers, Tatume had just started making male flowers.

By the time CR started making fruit, Tatume was still just making male flowers. At this point I thought maybe I could try switching things, and making CR the mother and Tatume the father, so at least I'd get something. So I didn't harvest any of the zucchinis for eating (like I had planned to do), and instead left them on the plants to mature.

And then the Squash Vine Borers showed up. The CR plants started to collapse. The borers even bored into the fruits themselves and made them rot before maturing.

By June or so, the Costata Romanesca zucchini plants were all dead, without even making one good mature fruit with seeds with Tatume as their father.

Now, in early August, Tatume is still around, still growing vines, and still only making male flowers!

I don't know what its problem is. Did I plant it in a bad spot? Is it not getting enough sun or nutrients? Why won't it make fruits?

It's almost that time of year where Texans can plant more summer squash for a quick fall crop before it gets too cold. Since it looks like my Tatume squash are going to survive the summer (which is one of the great things about that variety), I'm going to try planting more zucchini to try again for a cross this fall. And I might have to be less picky about which one is the father and which one is the mother and just try to get any mature fruits at all.

See? I told you growing summer squash in Central Texas is tricky!