Pumpkin stem rot is a condition caused by a couple of deadly factors coming together. This disease is deadly to the pumpkin plant so early recognition will be crucial.
But how to know for sure that your pumpkin plants are having issues with vine rot disease?
Well, taking a closer look at some early signs will make all the difference, and today we’re here to help you out!
What Are the Main Causes of Pumpkin Stem Rotting?
The main causes of pumpkin stem rotting are squash borers that would infest the plant on a large scale, verticillium wilt, or fusarium wilt. Lastly, it could also be the result of root rot due to excessive watering of the vegetables.
– Squash Borers
These are considered common moths in a world of squash plants. Their larvae feed off of the insides of vines and are usually active in summer — coincidentally when your plants will be in their most productive growth phase. These would harm the vegetables in the long run, as they target the stems and then go to the fruit.
Adult borers mimic wasps and are generally active during the day. They are around half an inch long with an orange abdomen and black dots. However, what will do damage to your vines and cause pumpkin vine rot is their larvae.
Borer larvae begin their lifecycle as small flat eggs until they hatch into white and brown-headed maggots. These larvae will drill right through the stem center and feed there for around a month when they’ll exit the plant and dig themselves into the soil to pupate.
After their attack, your plants will wilt in the strong sun, before eventually collapsing from being introduced to a vine-rotting disease. If you notice that your vines have wilted, you should look closer to see if there are any holes in the stem. Several of these worms may attack a single vine at once, turning it into mush.
– Pest Attacks
Squashes are very prone to wilts, aphids, cucumber beetles, squash borers, and mildews — all of which can introduce the deadly vine-rotting Phytophthora capsici fungal pathogen that has the potential to decimate your vines. You can avoid the cucumber beetles by planting these companion plants!
– Verticilium Wilt
Wilts are common triggers of vine rotting disease, and will even look similar too. Usually, verticillium starts by yellowing the leaves, before turning them brown. In that regard, verticillium wilt will appear like Alternaria blight.
If your plants are sitting in overly moist soils and are looking weak and yellowing — you’re likely dealing with verticillium wilt.
These will attack the pumpkin in a way that will be in the soil and they may appear through the tools that you have used, or from the seed that is in the soil.
In this medium, they encourage their growth and the harvest would go through stress in water, which causes it wilt in the long run.
– Fusarium Wilt
Fusarium wilt is similar to verticillium in that it will discolorize your squash plants. However, it will do so from the ground up. This one is rather aggressive and will systematically kill your vines.
After the disease reaches the upper parts of your vines, the stem will gradually begin to rot away and appear as if it has white mold on it, as if you’re tackling with powdery mildew.
After fusarium, root rot can follow — this is where deadly pathogens move on to destroy the roots and poison your soil. If you haven’t reacted to the disease by now, you’ll be in trouble, because this disease is one that will harm the stem, and as it continues, the pumpkin plant will not develop properly.
– Root Rot
Just like wilts begin by pathogens introduced to the upper parts of your plants, the rot will begin in saturated soil and will kill off the roots first, before proceeding to rot the stem. Also known as fusarium crown rot, it’s a common crop killer.
Rots and other fungal diseases will often thrive in humid and lower temperatures with poor airflow, so you should do anything you can to prevent such conditions. If your pumpkin vines are grown in a greenhouse, you can always boost your temperatures to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, as fungi will have a hard time developing in this range.
Root rot will develop and establish through the excessive watering of the plant, and the step of the vine will start to look weak. No matter the phase that the plant is going through, excessive watering will cause it to become weak and develop fungi.
The roots will soon appear black upon infection, with lateral and feeder roots following suit — decomposing and dying. You shouldn’t create a damp squash soil as the deadly pathogen may soon be triggered. In short, if this disease gets out of hand, your pumpkin vines will soon wilt, go yellow and die.
How To Recover Pumpkin Stem From Rotting?
To recover pumpkin stem from rotting, you should first let the soil dry well and ensure you have left room between each crop. Make sure to get rid of pumpkin borers, try to improve the airflow while growing, and apply some neem oil.
– Let the Soil Dry Well
When it comes to watering, saturated soils will improve your chances of getting the vines infected. If there’s plenty of rain, then obviously you shouldn’t add any extra water to the soil. Also, try not to have a strict schedule for your watering. Instead, only add water as soon as the soil has gone dry.
If the reason for having the stems weaken is due to root rot, then, we can better understand how to deal with or prevent this ugly disease. Unfortunately, with pathogenic diseases, such as wilts and rots, you’ll have small success battling them once they’re in full effect. Still, you can do everything to prevent them, and that is by letting the soil dry for a while so that the moist medium does not give excess growth to the fungi.
– Leave Room Between Each Crop
When planting, always make some room for your squash to grow and get them three to six feet apart. Plenty of reasons you’d want to give your winter squash plantings some room to breathe.
This is because if you leave room for one crop and the other, it would be like placing safety borders, where one infestation will not be contagious to the others. If not, the whole patch may go bad, and this is a way that the stem rot would be prevented.
– Cover the Pumpkins Using a Net
If only some parts of our vines appear wilting, while others don’t, then you’re likely dealing with squash vine borers. Generally, wilts and rots will decimate large parts of our crops, while rots indicating borer activity will be only local — where there are borers around.
Once you find the hole that the bug has begun to drill, you can try to poke with a toothpick to kill the bug and leave the productive part of the vine to develop and continue growing. In some cases, the rot will be so far in development that you won’t have alternatives other than cutting that part of the stem.
To prevent the borers from attacking your vines, you can cover your plants with a net to stop them from reaching the stem or get some of those sticky yellow straps to catch moths. But these will only do so much, as moths can lay eggs that will surely fall through to the leaves of your vines, so you can always go with a specialized insecticide.
As long as you stick to the spraying routine specified on the label, you should be fine with preventing borers from reaching your vines. As we said, fungal diseases will be harder to stop than prevent, so you should ensure that your plants are properly cared for.
– Improve Airflow
Air humidity is another important factor, and it’s not being dealt with by lowering misting activity or hoping that the rains will stop. The solution is actually improving airflow in and around your plants; you should also aerate the soil, and not leave it in a compact manner, or else the roots will be stuck with water stunted there.
This is easily doable if you’re growing your pumpkin vines in a greenhouse. Outside plants should have no issues with airflow, but you may want to provide some overhead shelter for those longer rain periods.
– Apply Neem Oil
With this in mind, go with some kind of fungicide. Natural gardeners swear by using neem oils or horticultural oils for this purpose.
And we agree that you shouldn’t do any more harm by introducing those nasty chemical fungicides. Simply mix some neem oil and water and give it a generous splash all over the soil should do the trick.
Pumpkin plants are a staple crop in many cuisines across the globe, and while some gardeners don’t grow them entirely for their nutritional value we still like to see them make it out of the growing season alive!
So let’s see what you should be mindful of:
- Fungal rot disease will likely kill your pumpkin vines, but before you plant any new seeds in the soil, you should give it some treatment first to ensure no pathogens are present in it!
- Borer beetles and wilts will almost certainly do the same thing to your vines, but they mandate different solutions.
- While beetles should be dealt with manually, and without making any harsh measures, wilts demand some kind of chemical treatment.
- Prevention is a better option for rots and wilts, so always do your best to keep your pumpkins healthy and avoid exposing them to high humidity, stale conditions, and low temperatures when they’re growing.
Preventing pumpkin vine rot is an easy task, and it requires your devotion and care, which we’re sure you’ll provide.
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