111 articles tagged "Cucurbits".

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With the start of pumpkin harvest, it is a good time to review important considerations for harvest and postharvest storage of pumpkins and winter squash (butternut, acorn and hubbard squash etc.). Pumpkin and winter squash should be harvested fully mature to reach their optimal quality and fulfill their potential for long shelf lives. Characters indicating fruit maturity include loss of rind surface gloss, ground spot yellowing, and hardening of the skin to the level that it is resistant to puncture with a thumbnail. Except for some striped varieties, mature fruit should have solid external color. If fruit have to be harvested pre-mature because of plant decline, these fruit won’t store as well as mature fruit. The best practice is to harvest the fruit as soon as they are fully mature and then store under proper conditions. If mature fruit are left attached to the vines, it increases the chance of[Read More…]


Several pumpkin growers have asked me when to stop managing for pumpkin diseases. That is, when should a pumpkin grower stop applying fungicides? I cannot provide a definitive answer for this question; every grower will have to make his or her own decision. Below, however, are some factors to consider. Estimate the crop yield-walk through the field and evaluate the yield of pumpkins that are ready to harvest. Be sure to only consider fruit of marketable quality. If the yield is at or above what is expected, it may be time to put the sprayer away. Estimate when harvest will take place-Pumpkins that are scheduled for harvest in the next week or two are less likely to need any fungicide treatment. A longer period to final harvest may indicate that there is time for immature fruit to ripen. For example, pumpkins that are to be picked by the consumer up to Halloween may have time to mature.[Read More…]


Many of us may forget about the pesky squash vine borer until it’s too late. This pest of cucurbit crops tends to be sporadic in our region; you are either battling it every year or it hardly makes an appearance. The squash vine borer is a member of the clear-winged moths, a unique group of moths that are active during the daytime. They are very beautiful with their bright colored orange tufts on their legs (Figure 1), but can be devastating. The insect overwinters as a late instar larvae or pupa in the soil. When the weather warms, they mature and adults emerge. You can scout for the first generation of adults in the spring and should target pesticide applications at the base of the plant when adults are first spotted and for two weeks thereafter. If you wait, the eggs will hatch and the larvae will bore into the[Read More…]


Plectosporium lesions on pumpkin fruit are less common.

Before writing this article, I went back to an old article from 2015. In 2015, I had written, Plectosporium blight was more severe than normal. In 2018, I have also observed more Plectosporium blight than usual. It is not clear to me why this disease seems to be more widespread compared to recent seasons. However, it makes sense to review Plectosporium blight here. I would rank Plectosporium blight behind powdery mildew, bacterial leaf spot and Phytophthora blight in economic damage caused. The occurrence of this disease is usually sporadic. However, when it occurs, it can cause yield loss if left uncontrolled. Plectosporium blight can be recognized from the light tan spindle shaped lesions on stems and leaf petioles (Figure 1 and 2) Lesions on leaves may be dimple like. Lesions may also occur on the fruit (Figure 3), although these symptoms are less common. Yield loss is most often caused[Read More…]


Figure 2. A severe case of hollowheart watermelon.

Hollowheart of watermelons is a physiological fruit disorder. Flesh separates inside of the fruit, typically forming three gaps (Figure 1 and 2). In severe cases, hollowheart could cause watermelon load rejection. Watermelon fruit that has hollowheart tends to be triangular shaped. Poor pollination is the primary reason causing hollowheart. Scientists were able to prove that seedless watermelons are more likely to develop hollowheart when the pollenizer plants (diploid watermelons) are located further away from the seedless plants. The study found hollowheart incidence starts to increase when the distance between the seedless plant and the pollenizer plant is more than 6 feet. Cold weather and the lack of bee movement during pollination period causes poor pollination and increases the chance of hollowheart. Some growers use mixed pollenizer plants with different flowering peaks to ensure availability of pollen matching the blooming period of seedless plants. Bumblebees, in addition to honeybees, are sometimes used; bumblebees are relatively more[Read More…]


Cucurbit downy mildew has been observed on cucumber in LaPorte County and LaGrange Counties, in northern Indiana and Knox County in the southwest. Downy mildew of cucurbits has also been reported in Kentucky and Michigan. See this article (https://vegcropshotline.org/article/cucurbit-downy-mildew/) in the last Hotline issue about details of downy mildew. Whether growers manage for downy mildew at this late date will depend on when last harvest is anticipated. Cantaloupe and watermelon growers who plan a final harvest at or close to Labor Day should not have to apply any specialized fungicides. Pumpkin growers often start to harvest in early September. Such growers will have little to worry about from downy mildew. However, cucurbit growers who anticipate harvesting fruit that is still developing may want to consider products that were discussed in the last issue of the Hotline. Remember, downy mildew doesn’t affect the fruit directly. Downy mildew affects fruit development by[Read More…]


Cucurbit downy mildew has been observed on cucumber in La Porte County and LaGrange Counties, Indiana. Downy mildew of cucurbits has also been reported in southern and central Kentucky. All cucurbit growers in Indiana should be scouting and managing for downy mildew. The organism that causes downy mildew of cucurbits doesn’t overwinter in Indiana. It has to be blown in every year. It is common for downy mildew to start the season in the Gulf States and migrate north with the cucurbit crops. Downy mildew apparently overwinters in northern Michigan/southern Ontario in greenhouses where cucumbers are grown year round. Therefore, downy mildew is often found in Michigan before it is found in Indiana. Many cucumber varieties have some resistance to downy mildew. For susceptible cucumber varieties or other types of cucurbits, specialized systemic fungicides will help to reduce the severity of downy mildew. Unfortunately, many of the most effective systemic fungicides for downy mildew are not[Read More…]


Watermelon harvest is in full swing in southern Indiana. At this time, we frequently see many types of leaf symptoms. Some of them are caused by foliar diseases, such as anthracnose, Alternaria leaf blight and gummy stem blight. These diseases require special attention, normally in the form of fungicide sprays, to slow spread of the disease. However, the appearance of a moderate amount of foliar disease in mid-season doesn’t necessarily need an immediate fungicide application. Other leaf symptoms may not be caused by diseases or insects. Here are some examples of leaf symptoms that are not associated with a pathogen. It is important to correctly identify the source of the symptom to prevent unnecessarily pesticide spray. In the article When a yellow leaf is just a yellow leaf, Dr. Dan Egel discussed general rules for determining if the symptom is a disease or not. If you are not certain whether the symptom[Read More…]


The bottom pumpkin leaf has the disease powdery mildew. The top leaf is healthy and has a variegated pattern

Powdery mildew is a common disease of cucurbits in Indiana. This disease is more common on cantaloupe and pumpkin. However, we have observed powdery mildew more frequently on watermelon in recent years. We have also observed this disease on cucumber in high tunnels. If left uncontrolled, this disease can cause loss of foliage, loss of yield and lower quality fruit. This article will discuss the biology and management of powdery mildew of cucurbits. Powdery mildew is relatively easy to recognize; talc-like lesions occur on both sides of the leaf (Figure 1). The fungus that causes powdery mildew, Podosphaera xanthii, does not require leaf wetness for infection of leaves, only high humidity. The optimum temperature for disease development is 68 to 81°F. P. xanthii may survive for a period in crop residue as a resilient fungal structure, but the disease is so easily windborne, that crop rotation is not always a practical control measure. The fungus[Read More…]


Figure 3. Webbing produced on heavily infested cucumber leaves by two-spotted spider mite.

Despite the wet start to the summer that we are experiencing, we have some growers reporting spider mites in field watermelons (Figure 1). This pest is typically associated with hot, dry weather and can be especially problematic in crops grown under protection, such as in high tunnels. Spider mites often move into a field from an adjacent fencerow or rye strip. Two-spotted spider mites (Figure 2.) are most commonly a problem on watermelon and cucumbers in high tunnels, but also affect muskmelons. They can be detected by observing the yellowish discoloration on the upper side of the leaves or using a 10x hand lens and scouting on the underside of the leaf for the pest. Alternatively, you may use a white sheet of paper and tap the leaves above the paper to dislodge the mites; you will see them moving about on the sheet of paper. Because mites often migrate[Read More…]


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