International Produce Training

Yellow Squash- Mosaic

Every now and then you come across an unusual defect.  These images of defective summer squash were sent to me asking for my opinion.




Even after all of the years I’ve been around produce, this one defect I’ve never seen before.  So what do you do?  My first suggestion would be to reference the USDA Inspection Instructions for Summer Squash……but you’d quickly discover the USDA fails to mention this defect. You would be allowed to describe the defect, as a greenish mottled discoloration materially or seriously affecting the appearance.  The squash shown here would be scored as serious damage as the discoloration seriously affects the appearance.  These would be scored against the 5% tolerance for serious damage defects.

I have seen mosaic affect cucumbers and zucchini, so this defect looks somewhat similar, a mottled appearance affecting the surface of the squash.   Mosaic is a viral disease that is spread by aphids or the striped cucumber beetle feeding on the squash plants during the growing season. Based on my experience I would feel comfortable naming the defect as mosaic. The good news, mosaic is a quality defect, meaning it will not progress, spread or get worse.  The discoloration only affects the surface and does not affect the interior quality of the flesh.

In summary, if you described the defect or named the defect as mosaic you would be correct.  If you are ever unsure of naming a defect, simply describe the defect and I am sure the grower/shipper will quickly understand what you are seeing.  You can read more about mosaic here.

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