Broccoli stalk disease

annew21 (zone 7b NC)(7b NC)April 21, 2013

Has anyone every seen this before? It's at the bottom of the stalk, and seems to be working its way up. I looked through a guidebook I have about plant pests & diseases but couldn't find it. I have about 10 broccoli plants, and this stuff is on about half of them. I'm in central North Carolina, if that's relevant at all. Thanks for your help.

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annew21 (zone 7b NC)(7b NC)

Here's one more picture.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 8:19AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Looks like Botrytis (aka Grey mold) although it is actually a fungus. One of the common garden diseases caused by overly damp conditions, and in broccoli by over-feeding, over-crowding. Starts off on the stems as brown spots or patches which change into a whiteish grey furry fungus patch. Invades the tissues and eventually kills the plant.

Pull the plants and don't compost them.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:02AM
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annew21 (zone 7b NC)(7b NC)

It doesn't seem like mold. The little tan/brown areas are actually hard. It's kind of like a wart - seemed to take over the outer layer of the stem. Would it help if I cut one of the stems in half and took a picture of the cross section?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:19AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

That's why I said that although it is sometimes called a mold it is actually a fungus and it has the classic appearance of a fungus growth in the picture and that is all I have to go on. But sure you can cut one open. More evidence is always helpful.

But look at it this way - regardless of what it may or may not be, it clearly isn't normal or healthy, right? Is it a severe infestation? Yes. Can the plants be saved? No. Should they be left to grow? No. Will a confirmed ID of it by your local county ag extension office be of help? Perhaps, for future reference only, not for these plants.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:08AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Any chance you used herbicides (weed killer) in or near the garden?
I ask because it resembles damage I've seen on cabbage following application of 2,4-D in the vicinity.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:47PM
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planatus(6)

Interesting, Jean. I looked for a while to see what it might be and couldn't come up with a diagnosis. This early in the year, there are not a lot of possibilities. No question the plants should be pulled out. Send a picture to your state extension plant pathology lab and see what they say.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 7:54AM
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annew21 (zone 7b NC)(7b NC)

I can guarantee that no pesticides have been used in my yard for over 4 years (which is how long as I've lived there). I might just send to local extension service. It doesn't seem to be negatively affecting the plants, and I have so few broccoli plants that I don't want to yank them out...tho I know I should. :(

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 10:34PM
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reddogs(8a SE Virginia)

ThatâÂÂs called broccoli clubfoot, I think. Dave was right, it is a fungus. Not sure what causes it, however, one thing I read said something about PH being a possible cause. Take that as you will. The one thing everybody agreed on is that the plants should be pulled, disposed of, and you shouldnâÂÂt plant any cruciferous plants in that spot for a year or two. Again, I donâÂÂt know how true this is. Maybe someone else knows more.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 12:17PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I can guarantee that no pesticides have been used in my yard for over 4 years

Jean's questions was about herbicides, not pesticides.

It doesn't seem to be negatively affecting the plants

Not sure why you say that when the extensive negative damage is so clear in the photos? Have you grown broccoli before?

Dave

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 12:41PM
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ltilton

It looks like clubroot, but it's affecting the stems. I suppose pulling up one plant would show what the roots look like.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 1:56PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Clubroot typically affects the roots underground rather than the aboveground parts

Herbicides with 2,4_D promotes excessive growth when the plant receives in a sub-lethal dose. Those stems are a match fro what I've seen (in the Extension office) on tomato and cabbage.

If OP hasn't used any herbicide, I would wonder about a "garden helper" who may have.

But if no herbicides have been applied by anyone nearby, I wonder about the possibility of contaminated organic matter (such as manures) which may have been used unknowlingly. (Although I must admit when I've seen that sort of thing, the damage didn't manifest itself as is shown in OP's images.) In this instance, I'm talking about the active ingredient clopyralid and several of its close relatives which can be applied by farmers & commercial growers on grass crops such as wheat fields and pastures.

Hmm, just a thought. Need to investigated all possibilities.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 4:00PM
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weirdtrev

It is unusual how healthy those plants looks around the damaged areas and you say they have no other negative symptoms. Were those plants damaged in any way? Like a big wind storm or accidentally stepped on which left them with a damaged stem? It is just strange how all the stems are split where that growth is as if they were mechanically damaged somehow and have tried to heal.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 5:27PM
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annew21 (zone 7b NC)(7b NC)

Sorry, I meant to say that no herbicides or pesticides have been applied to that spot...but then I remembered that I planted some super-cheap Bonnie tomato plants from Lowe's at the end of last summer. So, that area might be contaminated with something from the Bonnie plants.

I started the broccoli plants indoors in December, then hardened them off and put them outside in late January/early February (can't remember the exact date) when we had a warm spell. The soil was prepped by turning the soil over, applying a little bone meal and chicken poop pellets (organic). I have fertilized them one other time with chicken poop pellets.

There are about 10 plants, and 3 or 4 of them have that stuff on the stems. The ones with the stuff on their stems otherwise look no different from the other plants. I have never stepped on them or come in contact them other than brushing them while weeding.

Something else that might be relevant (or not, who knows?), the neighboring beds had beautiful, perfect lettuce and onions that are doing great. Two beds down are cabbage and cauliflower which are also doing very well (save the cabbage loopers).

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 7:44PM
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ltilton

It doesn't look to me like there's "stuff" on the stems but that the cortex on the stems has split to expose something underneath.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 7:47PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Last year's tomato plants have nothing to do with this malady of the broccoli stems.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 8:32PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Last year's tomato plants have nothing to do with this malady of the broccoli stems.

Agree. That isn't relevant.

However the fact that you planted them out in January could be unless all those in the other bed were planted at the same time. So may the "chicken poop" pellets.

But herbicides, if that is the cause, can drift for miles so if any herbicides were used anywhere in the area they can contaminate plants. Herbicides can also be brought in on compost, straw, mulch, etc.

So it the problem is only in this bed and not the others then something is different/wrong about this particular bed.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 8:48PM
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annew21 (zone 7b NC)(7b NC)

They are mulched with wheat straw (no idea if organic) and my next door neighbor, whose yard is about 30 feet from this bed, uses all kinds of chemicals on his lawn.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 11:00AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

And 2,4-D is a common ingredient in weed-and-feed products.

Thus likely that spray drift did it.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 11:21AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Every year in the spring hundreds of home gardeners lose some of their plants thanks to neighbors who are heavy into "lawn care". A 30' away neighbor is an easy source of contamination as sometimes even neighbors who live blocks away and are behind fences cause the problems.

All you can do in such cases is to ask the neighbor for advanced warning and cover your plants before it is done.

This, assuming it is the primary cause of the problem here as there are still other possibilities given the lack of problems in the other beds. See what the local county ag office has to say about it.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 11:38AM
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infectiousgardening

I got the exact same thing on my broccoli and cabbage. The plants are all doing really well - except for the stem "warts". which I noticed today. In fact, I hate to pull them all since they are really thriving. The roots look normal and healthy. I cut one open and it's solid / normal looking tissue inside. The stems look like they burst open where the growths are. Plants in both of my raised beds have it, as well as a pot across the yard. All of the plants came from Lowes. Normally I start my own :(

My lawn was treated about a week or 2 ago..... so maybe pest/ herbicide - not a disease?

Sent a photo off to my county ag extension. Will let you know what they say.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 8:52PM
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planatus(6)

I hope you folks keep posting, because this is really curious and may be important. Yesterday the USDA denied chem companies approval to move ahead with GMO 2,4-D tolerant crops. If they don't like the stuff, it must be pretty darn bad.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 7:51AM
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infectiousgardening

Here's what I've learned from the Ohio State University Extension

"It loo ks like Rhizoctonia which can manifest itself as many diseases. Cabbage and broccoli are very susceptible. This fungus is very prevalent in Ohio soils but is generally promoted during moist conditions. Unfortunately, once the infection occurs, the plant is probably doomed. In fact, removal of diseases plants is recommended. Do not put the same crop back in there this year. Choose something else and start over again would be my recommendation.
Ohio State University Extension Educator - Warren County"

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 10:03AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

That diagnosis/image doesn't match any sort of Rhzoc infection I've seen. I wonder if the lab mixed up the samples, or sent the wrong report.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2013 at 10:36PM
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annew21 (zone 7b NC)(7b NC)

Did they culture the fungus, or did they diagnose by sight? I just did a Google search and it didn't look the same to me.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 9:01AM
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infectiousgardening

They diagnosed via photo. I sent the same to Cornell Ag, as I used to live in that area. They shared this:

"It looks like clubroot. Once infected, the plant canâÂÂt be cured. The fungus lasts in the soil for as long as 7 years. Liming the soil to a pH of 7.2 is said to discourage the fungus."

So 2 different answers, both from photos. Neither said "let it grow and eat it" - so the plants are no longer in my garden :(

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 3:40PM
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planatus(6)

I don't think either expert guess us right. Clubroot most definitely would have distorted the roots, and rhizoctonia would have had the plants melting down. Rhizoctonia is usually synonymous with root rot.

The detail that seems to indicate herbicide damage is that the plants seem to have been hit at the same life stage, like it was an event rather than a process. Either of those diseases would have gotten progressively worse.

I'd pick up a broccoli or cabbage seedling at the garden center and pop it into a vacated hole with a little compost to conduct a bioassay for these diseases. Bet they grow just fine.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 8:05AM
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infectiousgardening

OK - so went to pull the plants and now the broccoli is growing heads and looking greener than ever.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 6:49PM
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infectiousgardening

and here's what the cabbage looks like. All are healthy, green, and growing fast. Will post a photo of my Chinese cabbage next -

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 6:52PM
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infectiousgardening

The Toy Choi and Bok Choi all look fine as well. I don't see anything on them. So, could it really be herbicide / pesticide damage after all? I may regret it - but will let them go for a few more days, all in the name of science!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 6:55PM
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infectiousgardening

and final post today. Another shot of the infected area...

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 6:57PM
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ltilton

I sure wouldn't pull those plants! They look fine. Except for that one strange thing.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 7:46PM
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