Prospects for Mechanical Harvest of Zucchini Squash

in HortScience

Removing a portion of the foliage of zucchini squash without reducing yield would increase the efficiency of mechanical harvest since less plant material would be passed through the harvester. Pruning 50% of the leaves and petioles at either first or second harvest had no effect on third harvest fruit yield. Primary or secondary fruit growth rates were not affected by leaf removal. Presence of a primary fruit reduced the number of secondary fruit developing to marketable size but the rate of secondary fruit development was similar on plants with one, two, or three fruit. The maximum fruit to develop at one time in this planting was two per plant. Following one or two hand-harvests of zucchini squash, mechanical harvest efficiency will be increased after removal of 50% of the leaves and maturation of two marketable fruit per plant.

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