|Thursday Tips: Rhubarb Seed Stalks|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Thursday, 26 April 2012|
As several readers (correctly) pointed out, I did not address the issue of rhubarb going to seed in last week’s Growing Rhubarb newsletter. My apologies. I got too carried away with the how-tos of planting and taking care of rhubarb that I forgot. So….
First, once the leaves have unfurled, it’s important to remember to pull rhubarb stalks out on a regular basis to delay the life cycle (i.e. going to seed). This will encourage the rhubarb plant to send up new stalks. Don't pull out all of the stalks you see though because removing all of the stalks makes the plant think it's time to move forward into the reproduction part of its life.
One of the main reasons rhubarb sets seed is that there may be a lot of female plants, particularly if your crop has been around for a while. It's also possible that nutrient deficiency is causing rhubarb to set seed as well. Rhubarb uses up quite a bit of soil nitrogen so they may need several applications of fertilizer. I've heard that dry soil can also cause rhubarb to set seed earlier than normal, so keep plants well mulched and the soil on the moist side.
When you see the seeds starting to develop pinch them off immediately. You can still eat the rhubarb; however, if most of it is going to seed, then it's probably time to stop harvesting and let it move on with the reproduction process.
For any specific questions contact your local cooperative extension office. They should be able to assist you.
Photo source: www.beetleeyes.com