Let me bring up something that’s really puzzling me.
I love butternut squashes. I make holiday pies with them because they are much better than pumpkin. Also, I like to roast them, & then mix in asiago cheese and roasted garlic for a side dish with dinner.
When squeezing the juice of a roasted squash out through cheesecloth (to make pie), I would always wind up with bright orange-stained hands, & stained cheesecloth, from all the beta-carotene. One squash could easily make 2 or 3 pies because the flesh was so dense and intensely flavorful.
Starting last year, butternuts are completely different. The flesh is watery and pale, like a summer squash. It has almost no flavor at all. One squash, of the same size as before, barely makes one pie.
Is this happening anywhere else? (I’m in California.) I figure that either:
a) the squashes are getting crossed with other cucurbitae, which every gardener knows they will readily do, or
b) farmers for some reason have chosen to plant a different variety recently; maybe it ripens earlier or is rot-resistant or uses less water, or
c) they are being grown in soil depleted of something vital to their butternut-ness.
However, in an online conversation I once had with a squash farmer, I was told that growers rent bees to pollinate the squash, and they tent-over each variety separately one at a time so that the bees can’t cross-pollinate.
I don’t know – anyone have a WAG?