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Rhubarb Plants

Q.What Is Wrong With Our Rhubarb?

Zone 52033 | Anonymous added on September 30, 2021 | Answered

My grandma has a rhubarb patch that has been dying after harvest the last couple years. This patch has been in the same location for 50+ years (It was there when she moved on the farm). She usually cuts the leaves off right after picking it by the NE corner of the patch. This is downhill from the patch, since it is on a slant. As you can see from some pictures I’ve attached, late summer, after harvest, the leaves start to turn yellow/brown, the stalks start to turn yellow/brown, the stalks get very mushy like, and then dies. We continually pull these stalks out and throw them to the side, but we are wondering what is causing this and if there is anything we can do about it. We love our rhubarb, and want to keep this patch going for many more years. It seems the last couple years since this is happening, it does not come back as great in the Spring. She did transfer some outer plants into the center of the patch last year (I believe). We don’t typically harvest it after mid summer, and we don’t over-pick it. I don’t think she ever waters it, just when it rains, and I don’t think she fertilizes it. If she has. it was with manure out of the cattle yard. Any information and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Also, please let me know if you have other questions I didn’t answer or if you need any more information.

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on October 4, 2021

Unfortunately it could be one or more issues including leaf spot, crown rot or anthracnose. Destroying the infected leaves is the best practice. Also be on the lookout for slugs. Just the slightest nibble of a stalk can cause its demise. If the plant is too crowded, I would also recommend division for better air circulation. For more information on rhubarb, please click this link: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/rhubarb/brown-splotches-on-rhubarb.htm

We hope this helps!

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