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stem rot on kale - what can I do?

Posted by chervena_chuska (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 12, 10 at 12:05

Hello everyone,

Hoping someone has some advice for me.

One of Red Russian kale plants started wilting a few weeks back and I thought it was just too hot out for it. I didn't have a lot of time to pay attention and I went out again and all the sudden it seemed the stem had rotted (mushy and disintegrated right through) at the soil line.

I removed the plant and tried to figure out what it was and from what I could tell, it's probably stem rot. I've got some broccoli getting yellow leaves and wilting at the bottom near it too and another Red Russian kale plant doesn't look so good. So far the Blue Dwarf kale nearby looks fine though.

Is there anything I can do to prevent this from getting worse? My brassicas are usually so resilient, this is the first year I've ever had problems other than slugs. :(

I love kale, do you think I could start a from seed again in a new location (probably a pot) and it wouldn't get sick so I can have kale into the late fall again?

Thanks for the advice.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: stem rot on kale - what can I do?

I've never had any results trying to treat a plot which already has black rot except to keep brassicas out of it for a year or two. Moving to new ground is the best way. be sure to sterilize any tools you used there with a strong chlorine/water solution so you don't spead it to the new plot.

RE: stem rot on kale - what can I do?

Is the stem rot being caused by any larvae that you can see? My spring kale and broccoli eventually give in to the cabbage moth larvae. For fall planting, netting is even more essential than with spring.


RE: stem rot on kale - what can I do?

I've got three raised beds in a very small yard so crop rotation seems like it will be a challenge. I can grow in the next bed over next year, but it's only about 4 to 10 feet away. Anything I can treat with to help deal with the problem now?

Is Pyola good for addressing insect problems? I didn't see any larvae, but I did see dozens of tiny, pinpoint sized circular red insects on the plant before it really keeled over. I had to look really close to see them. I don't see those on my other brassicas at the moment.

RE: stem rot on kale - what can I do?

Those sound like red mites. They are one of the few mites large enough to be seen easily. It's doubtful they caused the damage. They are probably there feeding on the decaying tissue.

should I pull out all the plants?

Well, I did a big cleanout and pulled out a bunch of sick plants yesterday. Down to 2 broccoli that have a couple sick leaves and 3 kale that still look ok. Should I pull these out of the bed too anyway to avoid establishing this disease more?

I won't plant brassicas in that bed for a couple years, but I have a tiny yard. Would it be ok to plant in the bed about 10-15 feet away next year (never had any crucifers).

Also, wondering about my compost tumbler now. I think I might have tossed in a couple wilted broccoli leaves here and there before I realized this was a real problem. Can I still use this compost in an area where brassicas won't be planted (like a new strawberry plot I was going to put in)?

Also, should I disinfected the tumbler with a 10% bleach solution just in case?

Can this organic debris be composted in a pile that gets really hot, like the community compost pile? I know my pile doesn't get hot enough. I'd like to keep organic matter out of the landfill but I don't want to spread this disease to unsuspecting folks either.


RE: stem rot on kale - what can I do?

Can you buy some pots and garden that way until you can get your gardening plots straightened-out?

Southern Nevada

RE: stem rot on kale - what can I do?

I have 3 large raised beds in a small yard. Only one bed has my brassicas and therefore the black rot problem. I'm prepared to not anything vulnerable in that bed for 2 years.

In that case, planting in the raised bed 10 feet away from that pot would be the same as planting in a pot 10 feet away right?

I'm wondering how to best carry out clean up NOW to minimize the disease lingering or spreading to new plants NEXT year.

Next year or still for this year, I suppose I could possibly put new brassicas in the front yard in pots or a take over a little flower bed if I really should avoid the back yard entirely due to physical proximity to the raised bed that had the sick brassicas.

Sorry that this is confusing. It's hard to rotate in my small yard and this is the most serious crop disease I've ever had, so I just want to be careful.

RE: stem rot on kale - what can I do?

I'd just go ahead and use the tumbler compost on the bed that already has the rot. It would be a shame to waste good compost. There are plenty of things you can plant there that are not likely to be affected by the same disease that hits brassicas. Fava beans, snap or snow peas come to mind. Even mustard, although closely related to brassicas doesn't seem to get the rot. Growing something immune in the bed will help it clear faster.
It may be a good idea to dunk your tools in a bucket with a clorox solution and not use them in the infected bed till it is cleared up. If you want to sterilize your tumbler you can wad up a batch of newspaper and soak it down with clorox and then tumble it a few times.

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