Where is Zucchini Grown in the United States?

Discover where zucchini is grown in the United States with our comprehensive guide. Explore the top producing states like California and Florida, understand ideal climate conditions, and learn about planting and harvest seasons. Perfect for gardening enthusiasts and food lovers interested in the origins of this popular summer squash.

Zucchini is one of the most popular summer squash varieties grown in home gardens and commercially across the United States. But where exactly is this hearty green fruit vegetable produced in the country? Let’s take a deep dive into the key zucchini growing regions, optimal climate conditions, planting and harvest seasons, leading producers, and more that make the U.S. one of the top zucchini growers in the world.

Top Zucchini Producing States

The top zucchini producing states in the U.S. are:

  • California – With its hot, dry summers and fertile valleys, California dominates zucchini production, accounting for about 75% of total U.S. output. The state is responsible for over half of the zucchinis grown in America. Key growing areas include the San Joaquin Valley, Imperial Valley, Oxnard Plain, and central coast valleys where large specialty crop farms have thousands of acres dedicated to zucchini. The consistently warm weather from May to October allows for abundant harvests.
  • Florida – The Sunshine State provides the bulk of winter zucchini through production in the southern and central regions. Florida accounts for roughly 15% of national zucchini volume. During the cooler months when much of the country has ceased harvesting, Florida maintains production thanks to its subtropical climate. Greenhouse growing has enabled the state to expand supplies further into the winter months.
  • Georgia – Benefiting from humid subtropical climate, Georgia supplies zucchini for eastern U.S. markets during the summer months. Georgia contributes approximately 3% to total U.S. zucchini output. The state has a niche supplying the demand for zucchini along the East coast in between the California and Florida seasons.
  • Texas – With its size and warm climate similar to California, Texas has a robust zucchini growing industry centered in the Rio Grande Valley. The Lone Star State provides fresh zucchini for regional distribution from Dallas to Houston.
  • New Jersey – The Garden State is an unexpected leader in zucchini production, leveraging its fertile coastal farmlands. Several large family farms have been growing zucchini commercially for generations. New Jersey zucchini is prized by chefs and restaurants in New York/Philadelphia metro areas.
  • North Carolina – With its long warm seasons in the Piedmont and Coastal Plains regions, North Carolina farmers harvest two zucchini crops per year – spring and fall. The state contributes meaningfully to East Coast supplies.
  • Michigan – A top 10 zucchini state thanks to production in the southern counties around Detroit which allow for early spring and late fall harvests. Michigan growers rely extensively on greenhouse cultivation.

Below is a table summarizing the top zucchini producing states by volume:

State% of Total U.S. Volume
New Jersey1%
North Carolina1%
Other States2%

As evidenced above, the warm sunny climates of California and Florida together provide about 90% of America’s zucchinis. Production is highly concentrated in these two states. Georgia, Texas, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Michigan round out the key supplying regions.

Ideal Climate and Growing Conditions

Zucchini thrives in warm conditions with consistent moisture. Here are the ideal climate factors and soil requirements that allow California, Florida, and other states to produce bumper crops of zucchini:

  • Warm weather – Zucchini flourishes in summer temperatures typically between 60-90°F. It performs best with sustained daytime highs of 80-85°F and nights around 60°F. Extended heat waves above 95°F can stunt growth and reduce yields. Since zucchini is frost intolerant, southern states with longer growing seasons boast the highest outputs.
  • Full sun – Zucchini needs a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Sunny fields and open planting arrangements maximize light interception. Inadequate sunlight exposure manifests in reduced number and size of fruits.
  • Well-drained soil – Rich organic soil with plenty of organic matter provides ideal growing medium. Maintaining proper pH between 6-7 allows for optimal nutrient availability. Heavy clay or compacted soils are unsuitable.
  • Adequate moisture – Zucchini plants require 1-2 inches of water per week either through rainfall or irrigation. Insufficient water inhibits growth and causes bitter fruits. But overwatering promotes disease. Drip irrigation best provides consistent soil moisture.
  • Low humidity – Like other cucurbits, zucchini is susceptible to powdery mildew and downy mildew fungal diseases in excessively humid environments. Selecting disease-resistant varieties can help combat mildew.
  • Wind protection – Strong winds can damage and break fragile stem branches. Windbreaks are commonly planted around zucchini fields.

In addition to optimal climate conditions, practices like proper crop rotation, fertilization, pruning, and integrated pest management also help ensure healthy vines and bountiful harvests.

Planting and Harvest Seasons

As a warm weather loving crop, timing is everything when it comes to zucchini planting and harvesting:

  • Spring planting – After the threat of frost has passed, seeds are sown directly in prepared garden beds or planted into starter trays indoors 2-4 weeks prior for transplanting. This occurs from March thru May depending on region.
  • Early harvests – In warmer southern locations, the first ripe zucchinis can be picked in early summer within 50-60 days after seeds are planted. These baby fruits will run 6-8 inches long.
  • Peak production – Zucchini reaches peak yields in mid to late summer when daily high temperatures are steadily in the 80s. Mature fruits will average 8-10 inches during this bountiful period with new zucchini ready for harvest every 2-3 days.
  • Late season – After first harvests, vines will continue flowering through summer providing a steady supply into fall until cold temperatures hit. A second round of seeds can be started in July for continued harvests into October/November before the first frost.

With proper timing, gardeners can enjoy fresh homegrown zucchini for 3-5 months straight right from the vine. Commercially, steady production is achieved using sequential plantings.

Leading Zucchini Varieties

There are many zucchini cultivars grown in the U.S., but a few hybrids dominate commercial production:

  • Payroll – Ultra high yielding hybrid from Syngenta. Prefers warm climates with long seasons to max out yields. Popular greenhouse variety.
  • Spineless Beauty – Open-bush plants from Harris Seeds produce straight, medium green fruits ideal for shipping. Good disease resistance.
  • Dividend – Released by Seminis, this fast growing variety tolerates cooler conditions making it suitable for northern regions.
  • Independence II – High performance hybrid from Rupp Seeds with impressive yields and uniform, attractively shaped fruits preferred by retailers.
  • Commander – Harris Seeds introduction touted for excellent early yields on compact plants. Good for small space gardens.
  • Ambassador – Disease resistant Seminis variety that delivers consistency across diverse growing regions. Reliably performs for commercial producers.
  • Cheetah – High yield hybrid bred by Syngenta for southeastern production. Heat and humidity tolerant.

This is just a sampling of popular green zucchini varieties cultivated in America. There are also dozens of heirloom, golden, round, and striped types grown on a smaller scale.

Notable Growers

The zucchini market in the U.S. is dominated by large specialty crop producers:

  • Frieda’s Inc – Family-owned company and leading zucchini grower in California for over 50 years, supplying retailers across North America. Grows over 15 organic and conventional varieties.
  • Parks Brothers Farm – Major grower in Florida for over 70 years specializing in winter squash and zucchini. Farms roughly 500 acres of zucchini to supply East Coast.
  • Henderson Farms – Georgia-based grower for over 40 years, providing zucchini to chains like Walmart. Known for Cornucopia squash variety.
  • Petrocco Farms – Specializing in Italian varietals like Romanesco and Costata Romanesca. Supplying top restaurants in the Northeast for 80+ years. A New Jersey farming institution.
  • Del Cabo – Leading grower and distributor of organic produce from Mexico with major zucchini operations in Baja. Exports to western U.S.
  • Colorado Specialty Crop – Specializes in zucchini and summer squash out of Hotchkiss, CO. Supplies retailers across western half of the country.
  • Frog Hollow Farms – Organic farm in Brentwood, CA focused on premium zucchini and heirlooms for farmers markets and upscale grocers.
  • Pinnacle Fresh – Major grower, shipper, and distributor of zucchini out of Kingsburg, CA under Pinnacle and Fun Farm brands.

These producers exemplify some of the major zucchini farming families and businesses that have helped make this hearty summer squash accessible for millions of American consumers.

How Zucchini is Grown Commercially

Large-scale zucchini production utilizes specialized techniques and practices to maximize yields:

  • Seeds – Most commercial growers purchase proprietary hybrid seeds from suppliers like Syngenta, Rupp Seeds, and Harris Seeds. Seeds are selected for traits like disease resistance, environmental tolerance, yield potential, and days to maturity.
  • Propagation – Seeds are started 4-6 weeks ahead of planting in controlled greenhouse environments to get a head start on growth. Some operations direct seed into the field.
  • Field prep – Prior to transplanting, fields are tilled, fertilized, formed into raised beds with drip irrigation lines, and covered with plastic mulch to retain moisture and heat.
  • Planting – Young seedlings are transplanted by crews through holes punched in the mulch plastic when soil temperatures reach 65°F. In-row spacing is 2-3 feet apart.
  • Crop maintenance – Throughout the season, vines are heavily fertilized and irrigated for rapid growth. Bees and other pollinators ensure fruit set. Pesticides control diseases, weeds, and pests.
  • Harvesting – Once fruits reach target size, harvest crews hand pick every 2-3 days. Zucchini are cut from vines rather than pulled to avoid plant damage.
  • Post-harvest – Zucchinis are rinsed, sorted by size, packaged into boxes and crates, and quickly cooled for maximum freshness and shelf life.
  • Transportation – Packed zucchini is shipped out daily to distribution centers, wholesalers, supermarkets, and food service buyers. Refrigerated trucks maintain cool chain.

By utilizing specialized horticultural practices and coordinating rapid distribution, the commercial zucchini industry brings peak flavor and nutrition to consumers nationwide.

Global Zucchini Production

While the U.S. leads global production, zucchini is cultivated worldwide:

  • China – The second largest zucchini grower after the U.S., producing over 3 million tons annually, mostly for domestic consumption. Relies heavily on greenhouse production.
  • Turkey – A major exporter of zucchini to Europe with prime growing along the Mediterranean coast for winter exports. Provides counter-seasonal supply.
  • Italy – Significant acreage around Rome and Naples dedicated to zucchini. Supplies northern Europe and known for heirloom varieties.
  • Mexico – Key exporter of zucchini to the U.S. along with other squash. Baja California is a production hub.
  • Spain – Ranks #2 in worldwide zucchini exports after Mexico. Greenhouses allow winter supply to Europe.
  • Iran – Emerging as a major zucchini producer with ideal warm growing conditions. Exports go to Middle East and Asia.
  • India – While not a top producer, India grows a diverse array of zucchinis including round potol types.

Future Outlook

Several factors point to continued growth and innovation in zucchini production:

  • Breeding advancements – Seed companies are developing earlier maturing, higher yielding, and disease resistant zucchini hybrids that perform better under variable climate conditions.
  • Controlled environment – Sophisticated greenhouse operations are enabling year-round production and protecting crops from detrimental weather.
  • Organic segment – Rising consumer demand for organic zucchini is creating opportunities for certified organic farms.
  • New varieties – Unique and heirloom zucchinis are gaining popularity at farmers markets and restaurants interested in specialty offerings.
  • Disease challenges – Combating downy mildew and other diseases is a priority for growers to avoid crop failures.
  • Climate change – Warming trends may shift ideal production zones northward while harming others through drought and extreme weather.

In summary, zucchini will continue thriving as a beloved summer vegetable thanks to steady demand and growers adopting the latest tools and technologies to maximize flavorful yields in the optimal climates and soils for this iconic squash.

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