The Q&A Archives: Split Stems on Zucchini

Question: I planted several types of zucchini and squash and all suffered stem split just above the soil line. Here in the tropics we need to water almost daily to prevent wilting. The split heals over, but damages the plant making it unproductive.

Answer: I wonder why the stems are splitting? Are the vines heavy, or being whipped by strong winds that are causing stress and breakage? Mound soil over the squash stems and up to the first set of leaves. If squash vine borers are a problem pest in the Dominican Republic, this will prevent them from entering the stem, also. To reduce the need for watering, keep soil around the plants loose so it can absorb water, and spread some sort of mulch over the soil to keep it cool and reduce moisture evaporation. Wilting isn't always harmful to plants. If they're wilting just in the extreme heat of midday, and recovering as the air cools, then their wilting is they're way of taking a siesta from the heat and preserving moisture within plant cells. Water plants in the early morning or in late afternoon, since plants can make better use of the water at those times. I there are other things that may be reducing fruit productions, but I hope following these tips takes care of the problem.

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