My brussels sprouts & broccoli are skeletonized! Suggestions welcome

Discussion in 'Plant Pests, Diseases and Weeds' started by Cayuga Morning, Aug 14, 2016.

  1. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Hardy Maple Plants Contributor

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    My Cole crops have been decimated. They had been looking SO good, flourishing. Just before I was due to leave town for 4 days I noticed some caterpillars on them. I killed all I could find, then put a row cover on them. Upon returning I discovered all I had done was seal the burgers in, protecting them from predators!

    I have researched the culprit; it is the cross-striped cabbageworm larvae. My plants literally are skeletonized, especially the brussels sprouts. I am smoshing all caterpillars I can find, I am watering regularly (drought conditions in the NE). Should I give them a weak dose of liquid fertilizer? Or should I call it a loss & pull the plants? Can plants live without leaves? Can they grow new ones at this late date?

    Thanks for any suggestions.
     
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  2. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Hey there Cayu--How dramatic is that!
    Well, I would NOT call it a day......as long as there are sprout balls and broccoli heads present. By all means, give them a bit of liq. fert. Perhaps it will help them to bounce back. I would even go as far as to give them a modicum of blood meal (N) to help with leaf formation.
    I am an optimist by nature.....look over your shoulder and out the window---see that fat lady? She is still arranging her sheet music, the concert has not yet begun.

    I believe that beginning anew and planting more seeds would be a folly at this stage.
     
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  3. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Hardy Maple Plants Contributor

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    Thanks Sjoerd! Okay I'll hang in there with them. I am having trouble keeping up with the buggers....they are going for the sprouts now & the beginning broccoli heads. I have read that this is a new caterpillar for our area. I might try Bt.
     
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  4. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    Bt was going to be my suggestion.
     
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  5. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Hardy Maple Plants Contributor

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    Carolyn....it is a powder you mix with water & spray on? Can I spray it directly on the forming Brussels sprout sprouts & the broccoli flower heads? Safely?
     
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  6. mart

    mart Hardy Maple

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    I do not think BT will hurt anything.
     
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  7. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Hardy Maple Plants Contributor

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    Thanks Mart. I have been killing the caterpillars by hand & the infestation has let up for now. I haven't found Bt in the stores yet. I may need to order it on line. Thanks for your help.
     
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  8. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    Oh, sorry, I didn't get back to this thread. There is a powder form and a wettable powder form. The wettable pwdr I would recommend using a spreader sticker with it to make it stick to the plant as you spray. You can get this pretty much anywhere, you just have to look at the active ingredient on the bottle to see what the name brand calls it. The wettable powder form you may need to order online or go to a garden center to find it.
    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Safer-Brand-8-oz-Garden-Dust-5162/202672582 ... this I say dust (lightly) on in the early morning when the plant is covered with dew to make it stick as the dew dries. it is better than nothing even if most of it falls off from movement during the day, but it shouldn't.
    Dipel is another common name for it, too.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2016
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  9. mart

    mart Hardy Maple

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    For the wettable spray just use some dish soap mixed with it. That makes it stick to the plant .
    Are you sure it is not army worms ? They will eat every blade of grass and anything else that is green. People here have all been battling army worms in pastures and lawns. Gardens are all gone here.
     
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  10. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Hardy Maple Plants Contributor

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    Still haven't gotten the Bt yet, but I am killing the caterpillars by hand. the Brussels Sprouts have made a half-decent recovery. They might just be fine. The Broccoli is still struggling. It may have been too late.

    Mart, I googled army worms. They are not my pest, but boy oh boy the damage they do is awful! 'Army' is the right word for them! Have you had to deal with them Mart?
     
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  11. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Removing those pests by hand is a good method if you have the time. That is how I deal with caterpillars on my brassica's. After squishing them, I place them on the edge of the wood-chip paths and the birds and shrews remove them.
    Good news about your sprouts, I hope that your broccoli will make it alright.
     
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  12. Cayuga Morning

    Cayuga Morning Hardy Maple Plants Contributor

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    Thanks Sjoerd, thanks Mart.
    The broccoli we are growing is what we (in our house) call 'fractal broccoli' because it reminds us of a fractal. It is actually boccoli romanesco. The heads are tiny so far, and one is turning pinkish/maroon rather than the chartreuse it should be. ?? The caterpillar onslaught has declined significantly, but I continue to pluck off the few remaining and hope for the best.
     
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  13. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    pinkish maroon head? Imagine that it is the purple form of cauliflower. That would be exciting...and tasty.

    Anyway...it sounds like you have the caterpillars under control. Chapeau.
     

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