Dealing with Fruit Drop in Cucurbits

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20160730A utahpests.usu.edu

Fruit aborting. Photo: utahpests.usu.edu

Gardeners often have a problem with fruit drop in squash, cucumbers, melons and other plants of the Cucurbitaceae (cucumber family). A small fruit starts to form, but after a day or two, the tip turns brown then the tiny fruit drops from the plant. What went wrong?

Essentially, the fruit aborted because it wasn’t properly fecundated, usually due to inadequate pollination. This is called poor “fruit set”.

Lack of Pollinators

In cucurbits, bees are needed for pollination, that is to carry pollen from a male flower to a female one. However they can be generally absent from a given sector (sometimes the case in urban settings or on balcony gardens) or rainy weather can keep them away.

It so happens each female flower lasts only one day, from dawn to dusk. If bees are absent that day, or if they don’t do a good job pollinating, it’s up to the gardener to replace them.

The following article explains how to pollinate the fruit yourself to ensure the best fruit production: Be Like a Bee and Pollinate Your Cucurbits.

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