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Pumpkin Trouble!

Posted: Sun May 27, 2012 9:48 am
by JerseyTrash
Hey everyone, I am having some serious issues with my pumpkin patch and I can't seem to find any answers, maybe one of you can help me!
This is my second year growing pumpkins, last year I started them too late and they died (the crazy amount of rain we recieved rotted them). I started them early this year and I'm amazed how well they are doing,they seem to be getting bigger everyday, however, there is one problem. I had 2 plants die this week. The one plant death was my fault though. The other one just looked like it wilted away. I disposed of that one. I simply brushed it off, thinking that one or 2 may die off in the long run.
When I woke up yesterday, I was in panic though. Two more plants were wilted and on the verge of death. It was extremely hot when I got out there to do the watering, 89 degrees and I thought since it was about noon when I got out there, they were just thirsty. I watered them well and later that night they perked up.
This probably doesn't sound like a big deal,but what concerns me is that how come the rest of the plants were not affected? I'm concerned about the wilting disease cucumber beetles can give to plants, BUT I do not see signs of the beetles; no egges, no beetles themselves and no worms inside the dead pumpkins vines.

So basically, what I need to know is, am I just being paranoid or do I really have a problem here? LOL Any tips/ info would be GREATLY appreciated.

Other info:
*I'm using new land, well fertilized

*I garden organic

*The seeds are Burpee Big Max

Thank you :)

Posted: Sun May 27, 2012 10:10 am
by applestar
It seems AWFULLY early in the season for it, but overnight wilted pumpkins and squash vines almost always points to SVBs -- Squash Vine Borers.
Tons and tons of threads on this subject. Check the stems near the ground (though not always) for splits and sawdust like mass.

If it is SVBs, this might be another example of earlier pest incursions due to the mild winter and early warm/hot spring.

OH! just thought of something -- how big are these plants? Thinking they can't be that big yet so early -- it could be CUTWORMS if the wilted dead vine had been severed at ground level. I *am* finding many more cutworms this spring wherever I dig.

If young plants and cutworms, then you need cutworm collars made of split cut down toilet paper tubes wrapped around the base of the stem or a pair of toothpicks stuck in the ground like "guards" on either side close to the stem.

BTW -- Count back the days to maturity from when you want to harvest the pumpkins. Big Max is like 120 days isn't it? I think you still have time if you need to start more.

Posted: Mon May 28, 2012 9:38 am
by JerseyTrash
Great advice, thanks so much! I gave the plants a good inspection today and they seem fine. Everything is intact, no holes in the stems, no signs of pests. It's just so STRANGE. I took some pictures, of the pumpkins doing well and of the wilted ones. I did notice one thing, all of the plants that have died were smaller than the ones doing well now. Survival of the fittest? lol When I first found out they were wilted and gave them a good watering, they DID perk up that night, went out today again and they were wilted again, I'm afraid I'm going to lose them.

Yes, it's around 120 days for the big max, I have a back up batch germinating right now.

Ya know, I was even thinking it could be the fertilizer. I never used this kind before and it's very potent, it actually killed a couple of my sage plants (they looked wilted when I found them and realized it was the fertilizer). I haven't put any on them in weeks though and they were doing great, so I can't be sure. Here's the pics.

2 pictures showing how big and great most of the pumpkins are doing



and then...wilted :(

Posted: Tue May 29, 2012 12:38 am
by cynthia_h
I don't have any suggestions (sorry...) re. the pumpkins, but herb plants do *not* need fertilizer. They do better without it. It really sounds strange, but such is indeed the case.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

Posted: Tue May 29, 2012 5:45 am
by JerseyTrash
I didn't think so, they always seemed to do great without it. I'm glad I only put it in a few sage plants :lol:

Posted: Tue May 29, 2012 10:51 am
by rainbowgardener
You said no worms inside the vines, but just to be sure did you check for any holes/ splits in the stem right down by the ground and for any sawdust like droppings on the ground around the stem. Those would be indicators of the vine borers Applestar mentioned. The damage looks a lot like what happens when vine borers strike...

How long did it take one plant to go from happy/ healthy to wilted? With the SVB's that can happen in 48 hrs or so. In my experience with wilting diseases, it's usually a somewhat slower process.

Posted: Thu May 31, 2012 6:54 pm
by TheWaterbug
Any signs of gophers? Gophers can tunnel underneath and chop off the roots, leading to sudden wilting and death like this.