Zucchini is a small summer squash belonging to Cucurbitaceae. It belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo and is fast growing. Zucchini can be yellow, green or light green, with a milky flavored and generally has a similar shape to a ridged cucumber, though a few cultivars are available that produce round or bottle-shaped fruit.
Zucchini is treated as a vegetable, however botanically it is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower. Zucchini are immature vegetable marrows.
Season for Zucchini cultivation:
Rapid germination and vigorous growth occur when soil temperature reaches 20º C. First fruits can often be harvested from 40 to 50 days after sowing. Plants need sheltered areas with full sun.
Soils for Zucchini
Light soils that warm quickly are suitable for early sowings: heavier soils are better suited to plantings that will be producing late in the season. Whatever the soil type, the crop will do best if the soil is well structured and drained and has plenty of organic matter.
The top 50 mm of the bed should be loose to allow the seedlings to emerge freely. Average, well-drained soil
Variety of Zucchini:
Yellow, green coloured or round and bottle shaped cultivars
Prepare raised bids or pits in the field at a distance of 2-3 feet. Mix about 2 tons of manure + 2 Kg VAM + 50 Kg each of Neem cake, Castor cake mixture. Mix thoroughly and moisten with EM as wetting agent and set aside for three days.
Mix into beds or pits as case may be. Give side-dressings at flowering or fruit-set with potassium solubiliser.
Most crops are direct-sown. Soil temperatures should be above 20ºC. The seed should be sown about 35 mm deep. Alternatively plant seedlings that are at three leaf stage when grown in plastic trays.
To sow seeds plant seeds/seedlings in a central hill and thin to 3 plants per hill once true leaves formed. Cut extra seedlings with a scissors to avoid damaging remain in plants.
The plants are generally grown in rows around 1 meter apart and from 500 to 900 mm between plants within the row. This gives a population of 7500 to 11000 plants per ha.
An alternative system is to sow double rows of plants 750 mm apart with a pathway of about 1.4 meters between pairs of rows.
Mix a quantity of 5 tons of Compost+300 kg Bokashi+150 Kg neem cake+3 Kg VAM+1 L Pseudomonas. Add sufficient quantity of water to moisten the heap and set aside for 3 days. Then apply @ 2-3 kg per pit. At the time of top dressing, mix bio fertilizer – Azospirillium (250 ml)+PSB (250 ml) in good quality compost (200 kg) and 1 kg of Trichoderma and apply at the time of earthing about 30 days from transplanting. Spray crop with Panchakavya or Amrit Pani on 30th, 45th and 60th day for better yields.
Water immediately after sowing or planting and on third day. Yields will suffer if the crop does not get enough moisture.
Then irrigate once a week in summer and carefully in rainy season depending on soil moisture. To the irrigation water add EM @ 1L in 250 Litres of water. Give EM water twice a week in the drip water. Add bio fertilizer – Azospirillium (250 ml) + Phosphorous Solubilising Bacteria (250 ml) + Potash Mobiliser (250 ml) to the irrigation water twice a week.
Give EM and the bio-fertiliser mix on separate days. Stop EM Once flowering commences and continue with PSB and K mobiliser only.
One/two weedings followed by one earthing up and a second if necessary a fortnight later is sufficient for the crop.
Plant protection (Disease and insect control, Spray Schedule):
|Aphids||They attack plant by direct feeding (sucking sap) or indirectly by transmitting viruses and phytoplasma diseases.||Spray Neem seed Kernel extract @ 3 % Follow it with a spray of Verticilium lecanii @ 5ml per litre of water|
|Pumpkin beetles||The beetles attack the seedling stage and make holes in cotyldenory leaves. They attack leaves at later stages also.||Spray neem seed kernel extract @ 3ml per litre followed by Beauvaria bassiana @ 5 gm/litre of water.|
|Two spotted Mites||mites feed on the undersides of leaves. They use their sucking mouthparts to remove plant saps. The upper leaf surface has speckled or mottled appearance while the underneath appears tan or yellow and has crusty texture. Infested leaves may turn yellow, dry up, and drop in a few weeks. Mites produce large amount of webbing. Heavy infestation will result in a fine cobwebby appearance on the leaves. Plants die when infestation is severe.||Lacewing: Release 500 adults/acre or 1000 eggs/ acre.Provide plants with adequate water.Remove weeds present on field margins and irrigation ditches.Coriander Decoction-Crush 500gms coriander leaves and 500 gms mint leaves. Pound coarsely. Add 5 liters of water. Filter after 2 days and spray @ 5ml/liter.Spraying Neem seed kernel extract @ 5ml /liter orSpray Pungam oil @ 500 ml in 150 liters of water.Use of Paecilomyces fumosoroseus (1X 10 8 CFU’s/gm) Foliar spray @ 5gm/litre of water.|
|Powdery Mildew||Leaves are usually covered with a white, powdery growth. Young leaves develop small, circular, white, powdery spots that slowly enlarge to cover the leaflets. A slight chlorosis or yellowing may appear on leaves infected by the fungus||Maintain good crop healthClean remove and destroy all affected plant parts.Spray Trichoderma or @ 5 gm per litre of water at fortnightly intervals to prevent disease attackSpray Pseudomonas @ 5 gm per litre of water at fortnightly intervals to control spread of disease|
|Mosaic Virus||The common symptom of an infected plant is alternating spots of yellowish and light or dark green (mottle) leaves. The mottled areas often appear thicker and somewhat elevated giving the leaves a blister-like appearance.||Control insect vectors and prevent transmit of virus through sucking cell sap.Clean and destroy all affected plant partsSpray sour buttermilk @ 5-10 ml per litre of waterEnsure adequate air circulation in cultivation area|
Harvesting of Zucchini
Fruit needs to be picked every second day, otherwise the fruit soon becomes too large. Constant picking also prevents formation of seed and stimulates further fruit-set. One plant can produce up to 40 fruit a season if properly cared for.
The preferred market length is from 100 to150 mm. The baby marrows need to be graded to within a range of 10 mm. Yields per hectare range between 2000 and 3000 cases, depending on variety. Harvest Zucchini when they reach the preferred size for use. Fruits taste best when they reach 4 to 6 inches in length.
T.S. Srinivasan Centre For Rural Training
SIPCOT II, Bethalapalli, Hosur, Tamil Nadu 635109