Know When To Pick Zucchini

Zucchini is a gardener’s early summer delight. This summer squash fruits early and continues producing through the summer under the right conditions. The prolific nature of this plant can catch a beginner gardener by surprise. Almost overnight a medium size zucchini can quickly become a large tasteless squash. The key to avoiding this is learning how to recognize the perfect size and picking frequently.


How Long Till Harvest

Prepare to start harvesting zucchini an early as 40 days after sowing the seed. Once the fruit starts to grow at the base of the flower, it can be ready to pick in eight days or less. Here are some zucchini varieties and their days to harvest:

  • Eight Ball (40 days)
  • Seneca (42 days)
  • Gold Rush (45 days)
  • Zucchini Gray (49 days)
  • Costata Romanesco (52 days)

Best Picking Size

Most zucchini varieties are cylindrically shaped. These can be picked at any size, but the tastiest ones are 6-7 inches long and 1.5-2 inches in diameter. Some varieties remain tasty at larger sizes. Some growers pick zucchini when 2-4 inches long. These are sold to restaurants for specialty dishes. Markets also sell them to consumers.

The round or oval zucchini should be picked when it reaches a 2-3 inch diameter. In as little as 40 days, this one-serving squash is ready for the table.

Harvest Time Color and Texture

The signal that it’s picking time is a darkened zucchini. The green, yellow, and white varieties all darken when it’s harvest time. The zucchini should feel firm, not mushy when it is ready for picking. Anything that is mushy or moldy should be discarded.

How Often Should Zucchini Be Picked

At the beginning of the zucchini season, a few squashes slowly appear. Suddenly the production accelerates. The overwhelming pace of fruit production may tempt the gardener to allow the zucchini to stay on the plant longer. Big mistake! Pick every day or two to keep fruit production going. Give away the zucchini if storage space is limited.

Zucchini left on the plant too long will develop tough outer skin, large seeds, and sometimes a bitter taste. Avoid this by frequent picking. Check bush thoroughly for the green zucchini that often hides from view underneath large leaves.

How to Pick Zucchini

The sweetest, juiciest, and crispiest zucchini are picked before 9 a.m. but after the dew has dried up. An extra bonus is a longer shelf life. Zucchini should be cut off the stem with a sharp knife or shears. Pulling or twisting the squash may damage the plant.