Pepper Seedlings: First true leaves shriveling & dying immediately. Why?


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This is my third year growing seedlings indoors, and I've run into an unexpected problem. On about half of my pepper seedlings, the first true leaves are shriveling and dying almost immediately upon sprouting. Others grow a bit, but then meet the same fate. It's happening to multiple species, in isolated planters. My soil, watering, & lighting are the same for all plants. Strangely, I'll have two seedlings side-by-side in some cases, and only one will succumb to the problem. Is this over-watering? Disease? Bad soil? Are these seedlings a lost cause, or could they sprout a new set of true leaves? So helpless to save my babies...

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I haven't seen this before but if, as show in the first picture, the cut stem is jagged and in the second picture the stem directly below the shriveled leaf shows any sign of damage I would have to say that you have baby cutworms in your soil.
 
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Well, I checked my stems, and I'm not seeing anything. The artifacts in the pictures appear to just be some detritus hanging off the stems where they met the earth, which was easily brushed away. I'm guessing cutworms don't climb.

Anywho, new pics and observations reveal some more info...I'm seeing browning around the seed leafs now as well on the more mature plants' true leaves, and even some brown spots arising on the more mature seedlings...this has to be a disease/fungus, right?

I have a nice spot for my seedlings, in a window sill, with a full spectrum grow light and heat pad on a timer (but no fan). The past two years were great with the same setup; however, I used a bag of soil that sat frozen in my garage for ~2 months prior to planting this year. I'm guessing that was a big no-no...I dunno. Boo.

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Well, I checked my stems, and I'm not seeing anything. The artifacts in the pictures appear to just be some detritus hanging off the stems where they met the earth, which was easily brushed away. I'm guessing cutworms don't climb.

Anywho, new pics and observations reveal some more info...I'm seeing browning around the seed leafs now as well on the more mature plants' true leaves, and even some brown spots arising on the more mature seedlings...this has to be a disease/fungus, right?

I have a nice spot for my seedlings, in a window sill, with a full spectrum grow light and heat pad on a timer (but no fan). The past two years were great with the same setup; however, I used a bag of soil that sat frozen in my garage for ~2 months prior to planting this year. I'm guessing that was a big no-no...I dunno. Boo.

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Some cutworms DO climb. Two years ago I had almost the same thing happen except my peppers were a lot bigger than yours. I thought at first it was rats or mice doing it but when the plant was attacked a second time it took out what was left of the top of the plant. I pulled it up and about 3 inches underground there was a type of cutworm I had not seen before. Bt didn't help and I lost most of my pepper plants, always to the same variety of worm. Since then I have used SluggoPlus when transplanting and haven't had a problem. But then maybe the worms haven't been back. I had not seen these worms before or since. They were gray with double orangeish stripes and about 2 inches long. I bet yours are a lot smaller if that is what it is.

It does look like you have a fungus, either that or you are watering too often. If a fungus a copper based fungicide should take of the problem.
 
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I already have sluggo for my strawberry patch. I'll dust a bit around them. Can you recommend a fungicide? I'll pick something up tomorrow, and post in regards to my progress.
 
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Following up, I applied some organic, copper based fungiside to my entire crop. Within 8 hours, all of the plants that showed even the slightest signs of the disorder (whatever it is...) were slumped over, wilted, and dying. The plants that looked healthy are still doing fine.

So lesson learned I suppose. Next year, if I spot any signs of trouble in the first set of true leaves, I'll start planting backups.
 
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Following up, I applied some organic, copper based fungiside to my entire crop. Within 8 hours, all of the plants that showed even the slightest signs of the disorder (whatever it is...) were slumped over, wilted, and dying. The plants that looked healthy are still doing fine.

So lesson learned I suppose. Next year, if I spot any signs of trouble in the first set of true leaves, I'll start planting backups.
I have never heard of this. Can you send pictures of the plants.
 

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