What Causes Celery Stem Rot: Tips for Treating Celery with Stem Rot

Celery is a difficult plant to grow for hobby gardeners and small farmers. As this plant is very demanding with its growing conditions, people who try it can end up spending a lot of time keeping it happy. This is why it is heartbreaking to see celery infected with a plant disease. Read the following for information on a celery disease you may encounter.

What is celery stem rot?

Rotted celery stems are often a sign of infection by the fungus Rhizoctonia solani . Stem rot, also known as crater rot or basal stem rot, most often develops when the climate is hot and humid. The same fungus found in the soil also causes moistening of celery plants and other garden vegetables.

Stem rot usually begins near the base of the outer leaf petioles (stems) after the fungus has invaded through open wounds or stomata (pores). Red-brown spots appear, then

…which then become larger and turn into craters. The infection can progress to the inner stems and eventually destroy several stems or the entire base of the plant.

Sometimes Erwinia or other bacteria take advantage of the lesions to invade the plant, causing it to rot in a slimy mud.

What to do with celery with stem rot

If the infection is present on only a few stems, they should be removed from the base. Once most celery stems are rotten, it is usually too late to save the plant.

If you have had stem rot in your garden, you must take steps to prevent the spread and recurrence of the disease. Clean all field plant material at the end of the season. Avoid over-watering and do not splash or move soil on plant crowns.

It is also advisable to rotate crops, following celery with a plant that is not a host for Rhizoctonia solani or with a resistant variety. This species produces sclerotia – hard, black masses that resemble rodent droppings – that allow the fungus to survive in the soil for several years.

More information about celery stem rot

On conventional farms, chlorothalonil is commonly applied as a protector when stem rot is found on certain plants in the field. At home, it is best to use cultural practices to prevent disease. These include preventing soil clogging, which can often be done by planting in raised beds.

Make sure that any graft you buy is disease-free, and don’t transplant it too deeply.
According to the University of Arizona, providing plants with sulfur fertilizer can help them resist the disease.

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