Zucchini Blossoms Falling Off

Q. I am having trouble with something sniping the blooms off of my zucchini. Nothing on the plant is chewed except for the blooms. I have sprayed insect spray on the ground and on plant for grubs,etc. It worked for a day. That evening there is a big bloom ready to put on a zucchini, then the next morning I go out and it is cut off straight as an arrow. I now have a big zucchini plant with no blooms. What could be causing this? We keep thinking maybe birds, but it’s cut off straight and the bloom will be laying on the ground after its cut off. Nothing is eating the bloom, just cutting it off. I am stunned and dont know what to do. Please help with your advice on what it can be and how to resolve.
-Wilburton, Oklahoma

A. The “blossom drop” you have been noticing is a natural process that is affected by pollination activity and weather conditions. Male blossoms, the ones with no little immature zucchini at the base, will open, release their pollen, and drop off. This usually happens early in the season before female flowers are forming in abundance. If it is the male blossoms that are dropping there is nothing to worry about.

On the other hand, female flowers will drop if they are not adequately pollinated. Since it is the female flowers that will form fruit, you don’t want them falling off! The reasons they may drop are lack of pollinators and/or humid and rainy weather which causes the pollen to clump rather than spread. One solution for this problem is to “be the bee” a.k.a hand-pollinate. Using a paint brush or Q-Tip, take pollen from two different male flowers from two different plants. Swab the pollen in the female flower. The pollinated female flower will hang on and develop fruit. This is the same process we use for saving seeds from squash. So relax, have fun, and when necessary, be the bee!

Ken Greene, Hudson Valley Seed Library
www.seedlibrary.org

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