Climatic Suitability of Growing Summer Squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) as a Medicinal Plant in Iran
Diversification of production by including a broader range of plant species, can significantly contribute to improve health and nutrition, livelihoods, household food security and ecological sustainability. Exploring the climate impact on any given crop is one of the first priorities to find new suitable areas for production and management of new crops. Summer squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) is an economically valuable plant with various medicinal potentials. In order to investigate summer squash cultivation feasibility under Iran’s climate, three main agricultural regions (Azerbaijan, Khorasan and central part of Iran (Fars and Isfahan)) were selected. These regions suitability for summer squash cultivation were evaluated by considering three vital climate variables encompass temperature, precipitation, and sunshine hours. These regions show distinct and representative climatic conditions of Iran. Annual and growing season average of maximum, minimum, mean temperature, precipitation, and sunshine hours were calculated (May-September) for all locations with 44 years historical weather data (1961-2005) for 8 locations (Oroomieh, Tabriz, Khoy, Mashhad, Sabzevar, Birjand, Shiraz and Isfahan), 39 years (1966-2005) for 2 locations (Kashan and Fassa), 28 years (1977-2005) for 4 locations (Ardebil, Abadeh, Bojnurd and Shargh Isfahan) and 20 years (1985-2005) for 9 locations (Mahabad, Sarab, Maragheh, Parsabad, Khalkhal, Ferdous, Ghaen, Kashmar and Sarakhs). Climatic demands of summer squash were determined by four years field studies at four different locations in Iran. Our results showed Azerbaijan region has a suitable condition for this crop cultivation especially from precipitation and temperature perspectives. Central part of Iran and Khorasan were also found as partly suitable locations however as they are near to deserts with hotter and drier climate, there might be some other crops considered as priorities in these areas.
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