Butternut Seedlings – Beating the Challenges Related to Growing from Seeds Butternut crops produce superb returns. If the correct growing practices are followed, it is possible to get between 30 and 35 t per hectare, though the average yield is between 24 and 29 t per hectare. A comprehensive soil analysis is a good place to start. Soil with a clay content of about 10-20% is recommended with soil corrections to be made before transplanting the butternut seedlings. Corrections include adjustments in pH levels and ensuring an optimal phosphate ratio. Commercial farmers also know that the correct nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), and potassium (K) ratios are essential for ensuring the best results, whether growing butternut from seeds or seedlings. The quality of the butternut seedlings is crucial, as the plants must be disease- and pest-free. Such seedlings should come from a supplier growing them in a climate-controlled space, such as a greenhouse, where nutrients and water are administered precisely in scientifically correct amounts. Crops are on the field for a shorter period and produce higher yields when farmers use butternut seedlings that have been pre-treated against specific diseases and pests. Butternut Farming Challenges – The Choice Between Seeds and Seedlings Farmers often opt for butternut seedlings over seeds to reduce the losses associated with rodents eating the sown seeds. Having to compete with rodents to ensure sufficient germination before the seeds are eaten can be a big challenge. Seeds do not germinate in cold soil. As such, many farmers choose to cultivate crops from butternut seedlings as opposed to seeds, eliminating the risk of non-germination related to sensitivity to cold. Frost can be problematic for mature plants, but it is possible to nurse affected plants back to production level. Butternut does not grow well in the cold and the plants require moderate temperatures. Butternut exposed to frost for a prolonged period has a shorter shelf life. It is thus important to take steps to protect the plants against frost if cultivating them in a region known for frost. The peak times to get butternut to the market is in the months of September, October, and November. Farming butternut has its challenges; harvesting is done by hand, which adds to the farmer’s labour costs. Though it is easy to grow, it does require a long season before the crop is ready for harvesting. The plant’s fruits grow on a vine, and as such, the plant requires a fair amount of space. Ready for Harvesting The pulp of the fruit turns bright yellow to deep orange when ripe. The outer skin of the fruit hardens, and the pulp becomes yellow or orange when the fruit is ready for harvesting. New varieties of butternut seedlings make it possible to get superb yields in the summer months, with some farmers reporting up to 50 t per hectare. The higher yields make up for the labour-intensive harvesting period. The average period from sowing to harvesting ranges from 85 to 120 days. When farmers propagate the crop from butternut seedlings rather than growing directly from seeds, they benefit from a shorter time on the field.
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