Suicidal Okra seedlings

rokoszMay 30, 2012

That's what it seems like anyway. Last year I did germination in jiffy pots (outside, hot driveway corner) and transplanted. plants were fine, thrived.

This year I decided to direct sow (since that's what the package said). Germination rate is low (easily less than 33%). But I did get enough to move around as needed.

Now the seedlings are going missing. Some were at the point of a 2nd set of leaves, approaching at least 2" in height.

In the last few days some have disappeared. -- no digging, no detritus, foot prints - just gone. Finally I found one plant out of the ground, wilted and dead. Then I found a newly emerging seedling uprooted (again with no visible forensics). I replanted that today with some water and as of this evening appears ok. But the largest surviving seedling I found tonight (after seeing it ok this PM) laying on its side wilted and dead.

Anybody have any ideas on whats pulling these guys up with no chew marks or paw/hoof prints?

I think its safe to assume this is mechanical (ie not insect or disease). I've got deer but the garden is fenced and these are way too small for all the other yummy stuff in the vicinity even if they were getting in. I've seen rabbits in the neighborhood (500' away, the next block over) but never in my yard, I border a reservoir area with a nice coyote population. and neighbors on both sides have dogs. Chipmunks and squirrels abound -- they seem to be diggers not pullers. So...???

thanks for listening at least.

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Birds pull up small plants sometimes. They're looking for the seed it sprouted from. Try some floating row cover for the first few weeks, it keeps the rabbits off too!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 10:48PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

My okra seedlings were uprooted like that and I believe it was because I transplanted them and watered them in with fish emulsion. I heard chattering in the middle of the night it happened that sounded like raccoons to me. One pepper plant was also partly dug up, but most of the other vegetables I treated the same way were undisturbed. Could you have used something in the soil that night creatures were looking for? One of my okra plants they dug up looks like it is dying and another is stunted. I just direct seeded some new ones, without fish emulsion.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 11:09PM
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Hi folks, thanks for that info. Nothing strange in the soil - just native soil and landscape company compost. Now the birds hmmmm. Last night I took some plastic juice and milk jugs - cut the bottoms and tops off and then plunked 'em down around the plants. Haven't checked 'em yet this AM.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 9:53AM
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Perhaps your okra just plain don't like you, and are willing to risk death to escape from your clutches? You're not singing to them, are you? We all know about your singing voice, so I couldn't blame the little guys... ;P

But seriously, I would go with the bird answer, maybe squirrels or chipmunks, although those would tend to dig some while they were at it.

One thing you could do to find out exactly, long as it isn't rainy or windy, dust the area in flour or corn starch. Whatever walks into it will leave much clearer footprints than they would on dirt, even if they're too light to leave any prints in the dirt.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 10:47AM
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I have plnted okra seeds in a tray 2 weeks back. Most of them germinated and initial set of leaves are healthy. I have transplanted few of them into a larger pot and 2 days back and they doing fine. today I planted others on to a prepared ground. Within mins after planting most of them got wilted and couple of them turned yellow. What did went wrong? any help is welcom..Thanks

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 11:34PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Did you harden them off? If you were growing them indoors or in shade in your trays then transplanted directly into soil in full sun, that could cause wilting. Hardening off takes a week or more gradually giving them longer exposure to sun and the outdoors. Okra really hates its roots to be disturbed and does best directly planted in the garden when temperatures are reliably warm. When I planted seeds directly in the garden next to ones that were four weeks old when transplanted, the direct seeded ones did better.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 12:06AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Another thought is did you water them in well as you transplanted them? If it is very hot and if you planted in the heat of day, the roots can get dried out very quickly during the move from pot to ground. Also true of planting on a windy day. To be clear, I am saying this in addition to what Ohiofem says. Okra is happier direct sowed.

If you must start seeds of plants that do not transplant well in trays or pots, try to get them in the ground as soon as possible after they sprout. I have had luck doing that, when it seems I was moving mostly dirt and it kept the small roots covered.

Anyhow, good luck. Okra is pretty care-free once it is established.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 10:57AM
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Sounds like snails to me. I lost 40+ Amaryllis seedlings in one night due to their appetites. They seem to wait until they get to the size they like before consuming everything.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 11:42AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

wally-1936. I have no experience with okra but I have far more than I would like with snails. They don't cause plants to wilt or to turn yellow. They just eat them. And I'm not sure snails would be the most likely problem in India.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2013 at 4:12PM
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