The Q&A Archives: Zucchini plant set fruit, then died

Question: Last year my one zucchini plant produced more fruit than I could use. But this year's plant flowered, set one inch long fruit and then rotted. What happened? Joseph Muglia South Plainfield, NJ

Answer: Your zucchini probably has blossom blight, says Steve Reiners, vegetable crop specialist with Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service in New Brunswick, New Jersey. This fungus thrives in cool, wet weather, attacking young zucchini fruit at the blossom end and eventually rotting the whole fruit and stem. There aren't any good chemical controls for blossom blight, but cultural practices can help dry out the soil and foliage, inhibiting fungal growth, he notes. Remove diseased fruit as soon as you notice it. Water in the mornings and avoid wetting the leaves. Mulch with plastic or straw to keep the developing fruit off the ground, says Reiners. For future plantings, increase the spacing between plants to four feet. You can also try growing viningtypes of zucchini, such as Tromboncino and Zuchetta Rampicante, on a trellis. Growing zucchini vertically increases air circulation around the plant, making it less susceptible to the blight.

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