Sunflowers Stems Splitting - Knowledgebase Question

Mtn. View, HI
Avatar for nakanot
Question by nakanot
July 12, 1998
I transplanted several sunflowers into the ground a few weeks ago and just noticed that most of the stems are splitting vertically. The only insects I've seen (so far) are ants. What's wrong?!

Answer from NGA
July 12, 1998
I couldn't find any mention of that problem in any of my references, and I've never had the problem myself. Is the area around the split brown or sunken? That could indicate a disease problem, and there are a few that attack sunflowers (though they usually cause the plants to wilt). Is there any sawdust-like material around the split, or on the ground underneath it? That could be a sign of borers--these moth larvae tunnel into stems and munching along the way. Try to pry the split open and look for a grub.

If none of these sounds like the problem, my next guess would be something environmental. Heavy rains after a drought or overfertilizing can lead to rapid, and possibly weak, growth. A strong wind might cause the plant to sway, splitting the stem.

I hope this helps a little!

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