Cutworms Cutting Down My Beans

jimster(z7a MA)June 28, 2008

I haven't seen them, much less caught them in the act (they operate at night) but many of my beans have been chopped off at or near the ground soon after emerging. It looks like the work of cut worms. Occasionally the stem of the young bean plant drops into a hole in the soil, which I understand is characteristic of cutworm damage.

I routinely protect tomato and pepper seedlings with a physical barrier. The beans however, are direct seeded as well as being too numerous for that approach.

Any suggestions, other than reseeding?


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Jim, the only suggestion that I can make if the cut worms are that bad is to start the plants in flats or peat pots and transplant. I routinely do this with rare varieties that I have limited seed on to ensure a good stand. The cut worms, root rot from too much water, cool soil etc. can take out several hills and require replanting and when I only have 15 seed of a variety to start with I plant them in 2inch peat pots. When they are starting to show true leaves I plant the pot and all in the ground. It also gives me more time to work up the area if I waiting on another crop to finish. All the beans in the pictures from last year except the limas and peas were pre started and two of the limas were prestarted.
On another note I bought me a new camera 2weeks ago and my work schedle is now back to normal so Next week I will start posting some pics of this years garden if I can remember how. Rodger

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 4:48PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Thanks for the suggestion, Rodger. Why couldn't I have thought of that myself. Probably because of my bias toward direct seeding of most vegetables. I was brought up to think transplants are silly for everything but tomatoes, peppers and one or two other things, just to get head start on the season. But I see the wisdom of starting beans in flats in this situation.

Good on the new camera. I know you will put it to good use. And I know exactly what you mean by "if I can remember how". My latest camera, a so-called "point and shoot" is the most complex camera I've ever owned, and I've owned many professional cameras. This camera can do anything...if I can figure out which buttons to push. I think it can wash and wax the kitchen floor, but will probably find it easier just to do it myself.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 6:45PM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

Hello Jim, sorry to hear about your bean plants. If it's any consolation, mine are being devoured by something also, but I think it's slugs, but cutworms have been at it also. I reseeded the other day.

This may be one of those barriers you won't have time for, but I thought I'd post it for all those other eyes that traverse these pages.

Posted by gardenlad 6b KY (My Page) on Thu, Mar 22, 07 at 7:37
In order to feed, a cutworm has to entirely circle the plant stem, and make full contact. Anything that prevents that protects the plant.

All I do is use wooden matchsticks. I lay a match vertically against the stem, and push it about halfway into the soil. Then, for extra security (in theory, just the one will do it) I put a second match on the oppostie side of the first one.

Since I started doing this, no plant so protected has been attacked by cutworms.
The post appeared in the thread, "Collars for cutworm prevention?" in the Bean Forum.

I sure miss Gardenlad's posts; wished he was still around on the Bean Forum.

Hope you get your bean plants up and running despite the cutworms.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 7:44PM
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Hi Jim. So sorry to read about your beans. Those stinkers got every one of my pole beans and most of my bush beans last year. This year I planted them in different sections of the garden and I've had no problems (yet.) Ppod gave some good advice with the wooden matchsticks. I've used twigs & sticks and those cheapo wooden shish kabob skewers. It seems to have done the trick.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 9:07PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

I use the matchstick method with tomatoes and peppers (using round toothpicks), Although the theory involved has been disputed, it seems to be working for me. Possibly it would not be too laborious or expensive for the amount of beans I grow. Problem is, the bean gets attacked soon as it emerges. So where do I stick the stick?

"I sure miss Gardenlad's posts; wished he was still around on the Bean Forum."

Me too.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 9:08PM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

Booberry, that's a great idea using "those cheapo wooden shish kabob skewers."

But the matchstick method was not my idea; credit belongs to Gardenlad.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 10:53AM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

Coffee grounds do not help against cutworms. I tried it, and this morning a nice five-foot-tall Blauhilde was cut.

I used the kabob skewers to protect the cucumber seedlings that are just now getting their first true leaves. I like the longer 12" length. Much easier to work with.

Beneficial nematodes is one method to control cutworms. I'll try & find exactly which kind & post later.

ATTRA has suggestions for cutworm control:

It's a two-step search, first: 'insect' and 'cutworm.' Two: 'treatment options.'

Here is a link that might be useful: Attra Integrated Pest Control, search page

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 11:35AM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

The beneficial nematodes are called: Steinernema carpocapsae

Manufacturer Becker Underwood, Inc.

Trade name: Millennium

Source: ATTRA

Here is a link that might be useful: ATTRA: beneficial nematodes against cutworms

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 12:26PM
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Nothing silly about harvesting pole beans on June 18th, here. Perhaps your bias about transplants is... no longer.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 4:05PM
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