Google PlusFacebook

How to Harvest Butternut Squash

By on Oct 6, 2017 in Blog, Fall Garden, Harvest, Winter Squash | 14 comments

Share On GoogleShare On FacebookShare On Twitter

Butternut squash has fall written all over it!

I recently harvested several perfectly ripe gorgeous butternut squash.  We had a lot of fun sharing the abundance with neighbors, and are loving the tasty fall recipes.  Stuffed butternut squash, butternut squash chili, and butternut squash rice with herbs are a few of our favorites.

Butternut squash rice with herbs is a fall favorite at our house.


Click here  to watch a YouTube video on how to make butternut squash rice with herbs – mmmm!)  Whenever I take a bite of this super flavorful winter squash, it just screams out FALL!




Wait to long to harvest and butternut squash can split.

However, if you’re a first time butternut squash grower, you might be wondering “When is the best time to harvest?”  Nothing more frustrating than harvesting it too soon and it’s not ripe. Or maybe you have waited too long to harvest yours, and it splits.  No worries, with a few simple tips, you’ll be harvesting your butternut squash like a pro and soon will be making all kinds of delicious meals with this flavorful winter squash.

Butternut squash is a winter squash and grows best when planted in the spring.  It loves the warm weather of summer and takes 3-4 months to grow to maturity, unlike it’s tender skinned summer squash cousin.  Being a winter squash doesn’t mean it’s grown in the winter, but rather harvested in the fall as winter approaches. Follow the following 3 tips to make sure your butternut squash is perfectly ripe and  lasts all winter long.


3 Harvest Tips


A ripe butternut squash has a deep tan color.

Butternut squash that is green is not ready to harvest.

Tip #1 – color of the skin

A ripe butternut squash should be a deep tan color, with minimal green striping near the stem.  If your butternut squash is green, with dark green striping, it’s not ripe.  Wait a few weeks, and when you notice the skin change color, it’s time to check the other harvest tips.



The stem should be brown, tough and shriveled.

Tip #2 – brown, shriveled stem

Another sign that your butternut squash is ready to harvest is when the stem is brown, tough, and shriveled.  If the stem is green, soft and not shriveled at all, it’s not ready.





The skin should be hard to pierce with your fingernail.

Tip #3 – tough skin

Check to see if you can pierce the skin of your butternut squash easily with fingernail.  If you can push your nail right through the skin, it is not ready to harvest.  It is ripe when it’s difficult to pierce the skin with your fingernail.  Harvested at the right time, when the skin is tough, helps it last all winter long.



Harvest time!

The time is right – harvest!

Follow these three tips and you are ready to harvest!  Using a sharp pair of pruners, cut the stem off the vine about an inch above the butternut squash.  Stored on a counter top, ripe butternut squash will keep well for about 6 months, longer if it is stored in a cool, dry place, such as a basement or root cellar.


Watch the video from my YouTube channel, “How to Harvest Butternut Squash”  so you can see exactly how to harvest yours.  While you visiting my channel,  subscribe and hit the bell icon so you get notifications when I post new garden how-to videos.  More garden to table recipe videos coming soon!




Comment below, let me know if you’re growing a butternut squash and how you like to eat it!

My eBook * My Partners Store * My Amazon Store


You can follow me, view how-to videos, photos of my garden, and lots of growing tips and tricks, on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest







  1. Pat Schomann

    October 6, 2017

    Post a Reply

    I harvested 16 beautiful butternut squash last week! This year was the first time I grew them. Can’t wait to try some of your recipes out!

    • Casey Harris

      October 6, 2017

      Post a Reply

      I didn’t get to plant squash this year, I would love to next spring I live in zone6

      • brian harris

        October 7, 2017

        Post a Reply

        HI kim i did not have room to plant butternut squash this year but because of you and my new big bad 6 foot bed i certainly will next spring already takeing some of my buckets apart and saving the soil in a 55 gallon pickle barrel once again thank you so much you have no idea what winning that 6 foot fiber bed means to me hope you have a great winter and all of your holidays Brian Harris (Urban bucket farmer)

        • CaliKim

          October 24, 2017

          Post a Reply


          Have you been able to plant in your Smart Pots container yet? Congrats on winning. You will love it- hope you grow lots of veggies! Keep me posted!

          • paige

            May 6, 2018


    • CaliKim

      October 24, 2017

      Post a Reply

      Hi Pat – wow, what a haul! Have you been able to try any of the recipes out yet? Our fav is Butternut Squash Rice – check out the latest blog post for all the details! Happy gardening!

  2. Conception

    October 15, 2017

    Post a Reply

    Hi Cali Kim , I would like to know where you purchased your Bags of Good Dirt , I would like to use that on my garden, trying to get ready to put in cooler wheather plants seeds
    Thank you

  3. Lennie R

    September 16, 2018

    Post a Reply

    Hi Kim
    I have a butternut squash that is not quite ripe but the stem broke and it’s barely attached to the vine. Is there a way to ripen it off the vine because o think it won’t be able to get anymore nutrients anyway. I could leave it a week and see what happens

    Also some critter has tried to eat two of my squash. It dug through the skin of two unripe ones — can I still eat them since I would
    Be cooking it and can cut away the part they tried to eat? I’m assuming it was a squirrel


    • CaliKim

      September 16, 2018

      Post a Reply

      Hi Lennie,
      Thanks for the questions! First, try taping the break then slinging the squash to the vine even if its just barely hanging on-nature is incredible!! As well, if a critter has broken through the skin, deep into the flesh I don’t eat it, if there is a small nick or peck I will just cut it away- but you might want to research further. Thanks for the support!

  4. Harold Rutledge

    September 26, 2018

    Post a Reply

    Hi Kim,

    I am a 64 year old Delaware gardener and I planted butternut squash for the first time this year. I planted 4 hills of three seeds each 6 feet apart at the end of May. These plants are now known by my siblings and neighbors as “Squashzilla” or “The Squash that ate Delaware”. These plants took over almost my entire 1500 sq. ft. Garden plus another 2500 sq. ft. of lawn. I have harvested 7 so far and there are another 52 that I can see right now. If I ever plant these again, they will be somewhere by themselves. Thanks for the info on when to harvest them.

  5. Jeannette

    July 21, 2019

    Post a Reply

    Like many other here, this is my first time planting butternut squash. I have 4 plants, each have 10+ squash. I watched your video and still have 1 question. My squash are a beautiful deep gold, no green stripes, small and large, and thick skin. My question the vines that are exposed to the sun are dry and brown but the underneath is greenish. I cut one squash and it still oozed sap, should I harvest or wait for the others?

  6. Jules

    August 28, 2019

    Post a Reply

    Hi there!

    I stupidly picked one of my butternut squash before it was ripe. Is there ANY way of ripening it off the vine? Also, how do they fair with frost? Although I planted them early, they are taking a long time to grow. So I fear winter will be here shortly, and they won’t be ripened before I can pick them.

    Thanks in advance!

Leave a Reply to Harold Rutledge Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *