When Is a Crookneck Squash Ripe?

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Crookneck squash is ready to eat when it is just under 6 inches long.
Crookneck squash is ready to eat when it is just under 6 inches long. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Crookneck squash is a type of summer squash. The squash has a narrow, bent neck and a bulbous opposite end. It is usually yellow. Like other types of summer squash, such as zucchini, you should pick crookneck squash before it grows too large. Crookneck squash is ripe and ready to eat before it has a chance to fully mature and produce large seeds.

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Time to Harvest

Crookneck squash needs warm soil and weather to survive and grow and so should be planted after the danger of frost or started inside a few weeks before. Once the plant's flowers are pollinated, the fruit develops very quickly. Usually, crookneck squash will be ready for harvest a week after its fruit first forms. In some cases, the squash may be ripe four days after its flower forms. As long as an identifiable squash has formed, it cannot be picked too early. Picking the squash quickly encourages more to develop.

What to Look For

When ripe, a crookneck squash will be between 4 and 6 inches in length and less than 2 inches wide. A 6-inch or longer squash may still be edible but may have a tougher texture. Depending on the variety, the color of the squash is either bright or pale yellow. The skin is slightly shiny when ready to eat. A shiny skin means the fruit is tender.

Overripe Squash

Sometimes you may miss picking a squash when it is still young and tender. Crookneck squash left on the vine will grow larger and will develop a hard skin. The flesh becomes woody and the seeds become large and mature. If you intend to have the plant continue to produce squash, you should pick any overripe squash right away. Letting the squash remain on the plant reduces its yield as the large fruit requires significant energy.

Using Overripe Squash

While some people may find the squash inedible because it is tough, you can try roasting the squash and turning it into a dip, according to gardener Gayla Trail, author of "Grow Great Grub." Since the seeds of an overripe crookneck squash are mature, scoop them out and save them for planting next year. Let the squash sit in a cool, dry place for several weeks after picking for the best results with its seeds. After you cut open the squash and scoop out the seeds, wash and then allow them to dry completely before storing.

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