GreenDean
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Plants Broken Off At Stams

Hello all,

I'm a first time gardener helping my dad with a vegetable garden in the backyard here in North Texas. We've got Zucchinis and Tomatoes, but we are having a problem where plant stems are being broken off near the ground, I'm guessing by some animal:

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This is a tomato plant I found this morning, but a few weeks ago we lost two zucchini plants to the same thing! It only stopped when I put defensive barriers around them.


Does anyone know what kind of animal might have done this, or was it something else? I know it isn't the wind, because only the first tomato plant on the row is damaged (same way it started with the zucchinis).

We bought some ROPEL animal repellant and are going to put more of it down when the wind calms.

Any help or experience would be appreciated.
Dean

treehopper
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Re: Plants Broken Off At Stams

I'd bet cutworms are your culprits...paper or plastic collars around your plants for the first few weeks should stop 'em.
I started a compost pile, because I gardened. Now I find myself gardening, so I have someplace for my compost!!

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hendi_alex
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Re: Plants Broken Off At Stams

Almost certainly cut worms. If you sift through the soil near the base of the plant, you may find the brown, slightly over one inch long worm curled into a circle.

When I have signs of cutworms, I just get twigs, about six inches long and poke them into the ground beside the plant, going up its stem a few inches. Evidently, the stick interrupts the worms method of curling around and girdling the plant, as the stick method has always worked for me.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

imafan26
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Re: Plants Broken Off At Stams

Cutworms go after plants that big? I thought they only went after really young seedlings!
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applestar
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Re: Plants Broken Off At Stams

These are Texas sized cutworms :lol:

But really, the big ones can bring down transplants like that. Cut off and lying wilted on the ground in the morning is definitely their MO as they feed at night.

Young rabbits do ccasionlly sample new plants by biting off at the base then "Ptooey!" spitting out (WHY can't they just nibble on the end of a leaf?). Sometimes they'll try a second one in case 1st one was a mistake.

...One year, I watched -- from an upstairs bedroom window -- a bunny do that to two of three moon flower seedlings that I'd jut planted out that day :evil:
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

GreenDean
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Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2013 6:55 pm

Re: Plants Broken Off At Stams

Wow thank you everybody for your help! I have a lot to learn about garden pests.

Today I put collars around the tomato plants like treehopper suggested, and I will use hendi_alex's technique as well if I see more damage. Sure enough when doing the collars, I found a cutworm curled up.

Thanks again,
Dean

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