Something chopped off my tomato plant

tim45z10April 14, 2013

I bought a golden jubilee yesterday. This morning I noticed the plant was chopped off at ground level. It had to be a wild critter. Never happened before.

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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

tim45z10, it's not clear to me if the upper part of your Golden Jubilee was left, or if the critter took it away for his breakfast.

If the stem was simply severed and the top was left on the ground, it was probably a cutworm. To keep that from happening when you plant tomatoes, you can wrap a piece of toilet-paper roll around the stem (under and above ground); some people use other things.

Anyway, if you still have the upper part of the plant, you can stick the stem in the ground (deeper is better), water it well, and it should root. Maybe give it partial shade while it's recovering.

You might get sprouts from the root ball too.

If the critter took the top of the plant away for his breakfast ... well, IIRC people usually aren't certain which critter to blame. I grow in raised beds and haven't had that problem (yet).

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 2:12AM
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It was probably a deer if you have them around because they ate all mine off last year and I had to start over.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 5:54PM
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I use to have that problem with the deer, but i found out if you eat them first the tomatos are fine.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 8:29PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)


    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 1:08AM
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zucchini(5a ONT)

I have cut worms...the best solution I found is:
when I first plant them to put a tooth pick on two sides of the make it appear thicker to the cut worm. If he cant get his body around the entire stem he can't cut it. This does not stop the stem from growing thicker, and I will remove the tooth picks later in the season..(I sometimes use long wooden ones skewers)i just to make sure those cut worms are not deeper in the ground...It is awful to have a plant cut off like that...
Martha Zucchini

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 1:36PM
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Thank you for your help. I did put the top in root hormone and water. I will plant it in the ground. Thanks for sharing that. The culprit is a cut worm. I saw one out there a couple weeks ago.
What can I do about the cutworms?
Thanks all for your help.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 9:55PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Protecting the stem is your best bet to keep cutworms from tomato plants. I also wrap the stems of small seedlings of other types of plants.

A Cooperative Extension article on cutworms:

Here's an old thread from the veggie forum:

Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) kills any caterpillar, though not immediately:

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 11:16PM
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I planted the top in the ground as suggested. It is growing, albiet slow. I put a lawn chair to provide shade. Thank you for the help.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 2:03AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I think the lawn chair is an amazingly innovative idea for shade!

Glad to hear the plant is coming back.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 10:50AM
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