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Postharvest Handling and Storage


The optimal storage conditions for cucumbers is 50-55°F and summer squash is 45-50 °F at 80-90% relative humidity . Cucumbers and summer squash stored at these conditions generally keep for 7-10 days before fruit shriveling, yellowing, or decay occurs. Storage or transit temperatures should be kept above 45° F to minimize chilling injury which takes as little as 2-3 days to occur. Chilling injury symptoms are watersoaked areas, fruit wall pitting, fruit color changes, and accelerated decay. Chilling injury may be initiated in the field prior to harvest, and then gets progressively worse during storage. Cucumber and summer squash varieties vary considerably in their susceptibility to chilling injury.

Pumpkins are ready for harvest when they are fully colored, normal in size, and when the rind has hardened.Pumpkins are ready for harvest when they are fully colored, normal in size, and when the rind has hardened.

The optimal storage conditions for winter squash and pumpkins are 50-60 °F at 50-70% relative humidity. All cucurbits are sensitive to chilling injury when exposed to or stored at low temperatures (less than 45 °F). For long-term storage of winter squash, maintain temperatures near 55 °F and relative humidity of 60% with good ventilation. Green skinned winter squash types (acorns, buttercups, or kabocha) tend to loose rind color (de-green) when stored at warmer temperatures and higher relative humidity. If pumpkins are stored in a well ventilated, shaded area, fruits will hold for 3-5 weeks even under the colder temperatures experienced in early-mid October. For fruits intended for long-term storage into the winter, first warm the fruits to condition them, then store near the minimum for the type.

For more detail on storage, handling and ripening techniques of the different cucurbits, refer to the specific produce fact sheets available through the UC Davis Postharvest Technology website: http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu. These fact sheets are comprehensive guides to maintaining postharvest quality of the specific crop of interest.