Stem Rot on Squashes


The term “squash” refers to both summer squash and winter squash. Summer squashes, which belong to the species Cucurbita pepo, are typically consumed while they are still immature, like zucchini, whereas winter squashes, which belong to the species Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita pepo, and Cucurbita moschata, are consumed when they have reached full maturity, like acorn squash. Growing squash is not very difficult; nonetheless, there are a few insects, fungal, and bacteria concerns that may lead to stem rot in winter and summer squash. These plants cannot withstand cold and are thus classified as annuals in almost all regions.

Squash Stem Rot Fungus

Didymella bryoniae, often known as gummy stem blight, is a common pathogen that attacks the stems, roots, and fruit of squash plants. According to the University of California Cooperative Extension, the first sign of gummy stem blight is decaying on the bottom section of the vine’s stem. However, the fungus may also harm the leaves of the plant. The fungus has the ability to girdle stems, which ultimately results in the stems collapsing.

Once it has been identified, there is no cure or effective treatment available for stem rot. Instead, afflicted plants should be removed and disposed of properly. If the fungus continues to spread, you should rotate your crops. Selecting plants that are resistant to the disease is another technique of management.

Fusarium Crown and Root Rot

The Fusarium solani f. sp. cucurbitae disease, also known as crown and root rot, mostly affects the lower stem and crown portion of the plant, causing wilting and ultimately the plant’s demise. The fungus requires soil and seeds in order to survive. The initial symptom of this fungus is the withering of the plant’s leaves, which is followed by the wilting and death of the whole plant a few days later. Typically, the disease affects the lower portion of the stem that is closest to the earth, and fruits that are located close to the dirt may also be impacted. Because the fungus can only survive in the soil for around two to three years at a time, the best way to avoid squash root rot is to either sow fungicide-treated seed or rotate crops every four years.

Squash Bacterial Wilt

Cucumbers are susceptible to bacterial wilt, but other vegetables and fruits including squash, pumpkins, and muskmelons may also be affected. The disease is most often transmitted by cucumber beetles, which eat on the leaves of plants. The bacterium causes plants to wilt quickly and ultimately causes the death of young seedlings. If your squash has bacterial wilt, you may test it by cutting the stem at the base and squeezing it. If the stem contains the bacteria, a sticky substance will flow out of it when you do this.

Eliminating the cucumber beetle will also help reduce the amount of germs. You may assist manage the pests and disease by applying an insecticide to the soil and then following it up with scheduled applications of a contact pesticide on the leaves.

Squash Bug Problems

Squash bugs, which belong to the genus Anasa, feed on plants by sucking the sap out of the plants with their piercing mouth parts. These frequent pests of vegetable gardens seek for melons, squash, and pumpkins as their food source. They bring about the wilting and eventual death of plants. It may infect the stems, the leaves, or the fruit, and when it does, the affected tissue becomes black and brittle with symptoms that are very similar to those of bacterial wilt.

The use of appropriate sanitation techniques, trellising plants, planting resistant types, and introducing helpful insects are all strategies that may be used for control. The plants may also be protected from insects by using row covers; however, it is important to remember to remove the row covers once the squash plants begin to flower, as is recommended by Harvest to Table. In such case, you are preventing pollinators from reaching your plants, which means they won’t produce any fruit.