Looks like cutworm damage to me. They will crawl up the stalk at night
and then crawl back down before daylight and hide in the surface of the
soil during the day. Usually they will crawl the same stalk again, or
one very near the following night. Solutions are a flashlight and
mushing sometime after it's gotten quite dark. Taking some Sevin dust
and sprinkling that over the pods will deter further damage. The best
solution I've found for cutworms are a beetle I call the 'ammonia
beetle'. These are shiny black or irredescent green. The name I use
comes from the fumes (no other word will do) they emit when disturbed.
I learned that lesson in grade school after I stuck my nose in a
mayonnaise jar that I'd partially filled with them. Nearly asphyxiated
myself. Those beetles do love cutworms, though, and can be seen
dragging the largest ones across the surface of the soil at midday on
the hottest of days. They tend to be a nuisance bug in offices and I
used to gather them up and bring them home and release them. My
cutworm population suffered a big hit and this wet year is the first
I've seen of much damage and it's still minor. I probably thinned out
the beetles somewhat fighting grasshoppers, but fortunately didn't
eliminate them. Keeping these beetles around is a great long-term
solution for cutworms. Damage will be insignificant and rare if you
can keep the beetles around.
Texas Zone 7b, USA
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