My zucchini plants all are getting orange and mushy at their base, killing off the rest of plant. Anyone know what is happening. are they done for or can they be saved. What do I do to prevent it from happening again.
I have had this happen, and as far as I know, squash borers will do that. They just decimate the stem at the soil line, leaving yucky sawdust-like yellow excrement behind.
Sometimes you can remove the borers by slitting the stem and taking them out, but if the stems are already chewed up, I don't think you can save them. At least, I never could at that stage.
Is there anyway to stop this from happening?
They only way they say you can prevent them is row covers during the period when the adult moth is around laying eggs. It is possible to remove the grubs from the stems by slicing the stems open. The grubs get pretty big, and are easy to find. Look for the orange 'frass (poop)' coming out of the stem. Look for the wettest, orangest frass, it will look like mashed butternut squash, move that aside and find the hole it is coming out of then slice along the stem in the direction of the bore hole within the stem (this will be softer than the un-bored stem). Generally you will cut the little bugger while doing that, but you can gently spread the slice open and look in side, the grub is white, with a black head, it will be slowly retreating. Kill it good. I have started using a long pin, and I find the grub and just poke it a few times. I like to pull them out though, and if they are big and fat - and they are - I collect them and bring them over to one of the low bird nests in my yard and feed them to the baby birds, used to feed them to the Koi, but its gone. I am on year 5 of battling these critters, and eventually they win every time. They say they don't attack winter squash. They lie, my acorn, spaghetti, zukes and yellow summer squash have all been infested this year, not matter how much prevention I use (haven't tried row covers yet, lazy). The only squash they left alone this year are the butternuts (got them in previous years though) and the Tromochinno (Zucchetta).
The Zukes don't seem to affected by all of the slicing and poking I've been doing, and they do bounce back once the grubs have been removed, but it is an ongoing process, and in my opinion it just prolongs the inevitable. The worst part is no matter how vigilant you are, your neighbor may not be and these things just keep on coming back year after year.
Zone 4, I am guessing they are just getting up your way? My father in law in the Berkshires (MA) never had any trouble with them, but I found and killed on of the moths on his plants a couple weeks ago, they must be slowly making their way northward.
Good Luck, happy slicing.