BREEDER: M. MAZOUREK
Bred to reimagine the workaday butternut, the 898 packs concentrated sweetness, flavor and beta-carotene into a squash that fits in the palm of your hand. 110 days to maturity.
*Each 898 squash seed sold supports public plant breeding research at Cornell University.
It’s been almost eight years since Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill stood in the kitchen with vegetable breeder Michael Mazourek and asked him (half-jokingly) if he could breed a butternut squash to actually taste good. Since chefs and home cooks often struggle to eek out flavor from this workaday squash—reaching for maple syrup or honey to do the trick—he thought it was a fair question. Mazourek's answer? It was the first time anyone had asked him to breed for flavor.
That conversation launched a little squash called the Honeynut (now available coast to coast)—and our own little seed company. But Mazourek never sees his work as finished. Together, he and Dan started to ask: how can we one-up the Honeynut?
Noticing that the Honeynut’s thin skin caused it to go downhill in storage after November, Mazourek continued to tinker, selecting for outstanding flavor along the way.
Still in the experimental phase, the 898 squash is the delicious result: a longer-storing, even-more-mini butternut packed with flavor and nutrition. With candy-like Brix measurements that can reach 15+, it’s sweet enough for dessert, and one serving contains more than double the Recommended Dietary Allowance of Vitamin A.
This trial variety invites chefs, growers and eaters to share feedback from the field and kitchen. Please let us know how it grows at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Our 898 seeds were produced in NY.
Days to Maturity: 110 days.
— Fruit: 5-6" long mini butternuts; 0.5-1 lbs.
— Short vine, 4-5' long
— Soil Requirements: Fertile, well-drained soils.
— Row Covers: Cover young plants to increase early growth and protect from insect pests. Remove covers at flowering to ensure pollination and fruit set.
Spacing after Thinning/Transplanting
— Plant Spacing: 24”
— Row Spacing: 7’
— Sow seeds ½” deep after last frost, when soil temperatures reach at least 70˚F.
— Sow 1-2 seeds every 24”; thin to one plant every 24”.
— 6-12 days to emergence.
— Start seeds indoors 2-3 weeks before last frost. Sow seeds ½” deep. Optimal temperature for germination is 70-90˚F.
— Move transplants outdoors to harden off gradually for 3-5 days, protecting seedlings from wind, strong sun, hard rain and cold.
— Transplant outdoors after last frost, when soil temperatures reach at least 70˚F. Do not disturb roots when transplanting.
Pest + Disease Info
— Insect Pests: Cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and aphids. Pyrethrin, spinosad, soaps, row cover, or Blue Hubbard trap crops help prevent damage. Check undersides of leaves for eggs. Use best management practices such as crop rotation and removal of crop debris post-harvest to deter insect population growth.
— Diseases: Protect from powdery mildew. For fruit rots (anthracnose, scab, fusarium), bacterial wilt, and viruses such as cucumber mosaic virus, maintain good air circulation and schedule watering to allow plants to dry fully.
Key words: Let it ripen. The 898 reaches maximum sweetness when allowed to stay on the vine. It’s ready to pick when the rind darkens and the green lines around the stem recede. Harvest twice as fruit ripen for optimal yield and quality. (If in danger of frost, harvest all fruit.) Handle fruit gently to prevent damage.
Fruit store well after curing. Cure at about 80˚F for one week. Store at 50˚F, 50% relative humidity, with air exchange for best storage. Higher humidity, up to 70%, can lengthen storage. Plan to use all by February. Monitor storage for fruit loss.
300 seeds/ounce; 4,800 seeds/pound.
Slice in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Lay face up on sheet tray, brush with oil and season with salt. Cover with foil and roast at 400°F until soft enough to scoop with a spoon. Reserve brown sugar, butter and maple syrup for other uses; you won’t need them.