Split Stems on Zucchini - Knowledgebase Question

Santiago, NJ
Question by iluterana
November 11, 1997
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.


A comment from Bdubs
June 28, 2018
I also had this problem. For the first time ever, in a different house and on a second story balcony in containers (NE Wisconsin). I have direct sun from 6am to 3-4 pm. The plants look amazing even though the wind can be moderate to strong at times (15-35mph). Every part of the situation was new to me.
It started with my first flower producing Fordhook Zucchini. I was puzzled by the fact it was only producing male flowers. After a few weeks there was no change. All of my Crookneck Squash and Fordhook Zucchini displayed signs of stress and a dry side on all of the stalks. I filled my pots up close to the top with soil to cover the dry and stressed parts. My gorgeous ever male flowering Zucchini had developed a split down the dry side. I poked through a few boxes and found some tree trunk tape and dug down past the split. I inserted the end of the cut and slightly tapered trunk tape, and packed the split. After wrapping the stem a few times around, I cut the excess. I then with my daughters stolen stretchy hair tie, cut and loosely tied it around the taped stem to hold in place. I then covered with dirt like the others. Within 4 days I had fruit starting on all 10 plants. My ever flowering zuchinni? Well, that was the first to sprout a female blossom as well as to fruit. I have pictures, unfortunately I only have two hands and didn't take any before or during the process.
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Answer from NGA
November 11, 1997

0

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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