103 articles tagged "Cucurbits".

Figure 1. Grafted Fascination plants were grown on the right bed, ungrafted plants were grown on the left bed. The field were naturally infested with Fusarium wilt.

Watermelon production is threatened by Fusarium wilt, a widely distributed soilborne disease that can cause yield losses up to 100%. Currently, there are no watermelon varieties that are completely resistant to all races of Fusarium wilt. One way to control the disease is through grafting. The grafted plant combines a watermelon cultivar with a squash rootstock that has resistance to Fusarium wilt. In a study conducted at Southwest Purdue Ag Center (SWPAC), we found grafted watermelons significantly reduced disease incidence, and more than doubled watermelon yield in a Fusarium wilt infected field (Figure 1). In addition to controlling Fusarium wilt, grafted watermelons often show substantial advantages in early watermelon production due to cold tolerance from rootstocks. In a study conducted in Arizona, grafted watermelons that were transplanted in the field two months before soil temperatures reached 70 °F had twice as much yield as ungrafted watermelons grown in the same[Read More…]


Many cantaloupe and watermelon growers have transplanted seedlings to the field. Soon, these growers will have questions about what and when to apply fungicides. The article below in this issue of the Vegetable Crops Hotline will address what fungicides to apply (Fungicides schedules for cucurbits). This article discusses when to apply fungicides with the MELCAST system. MELCAST (MELon disease foreCASTer) is a weather-based disease-forecasting program for cantaloupe and watermelon growers developed By Dr. Rick Latin at Purdue University. Instead of using a calendar based fungicide application program where one applies fungicides every 7 to 14 days, the MELCAST program lets growers apply fungicides when the weather is most conducive to disease. The diseases for which MELCAST may be used for are: Alternaria leaf blight, anthracnose and gummy stem blight. Details are listed below or in the extension bulletin, Foliar Disease Control Using MELCAST, BP-67-W. Download the bulletin at http://www.extension.purdue. edu/extmedia/BP/BP-67-W.pdf or[Read More…]


One of the most damaging pests in cucurbit production are cucumber beetles and the bacterial pathogen they transmit (Erwinia trachephila), leading to bacterial wilt.  In the recently released video, Dr. Laura Ingwell from Purdue Entomology demonstrates how to install insect exclusion screens on high tunnels. Such screens are effective at excluding cucumber beetles and the pathogen they transmit from high tunnels. 


Figure 1. Seedcorn maggot in a melon stem

I received my first report of seedcorn maggot damage on cantaloupes last week (Figure 1 and 2). A grower in northern Indiana reported losing 90-95% of his plants. Given the cool, wet growing conditions, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more reports of this type for a number of crops, including melons, beans, corn, onions, and crucifers. Some of these crops have insecticide alternatives that can be used at planting but other, like melons, have no such option. The best approach for melon growers is to either wait for warmer weather or cover the young plants with row covers to physically exclude the flies from laying eggs. If you have had plants killed by maggots, wait at least 3 days before replanting in the same holes to give the maggots time to complete their development. See the article from Issue 625 (published on April 13, 2017) for more details.


Many cantaloupe and watermelon growers are either growing transplants in a greenhouse or are expecting delivery of transplants in the next few weeks. Either way, growers should inspect transplants for disease before planting in the field. Below I will describe several common transplant diseases of cantaloupe and watermelon as well as management options. Gummy stem blight on transplant seedlings may be recognized by the water soaked area of the stem near the seed leaves (Figure 1). (A water soaked area near the soil line is more likely to be damping-off.) The water soaked area may eventually turn brown and woody. A closer look at the woody area may reveal the small, dark fungal structures of the gummy stem blight fungus. Medium brown, irregular lesions may also be observed on true leaves. The fungus that causes gummy stem blight (Didymella bryoniae) may survive in crop debris, thus overwintering in the field[Read More…]


Figure 2: We often observe Fusarium wilt in transplant trays in a clustered distribution. We believe that Fusarium wilt may spread from plant-to-plant within a transplant tray, perhaps by soil splash or spores that have been observed on diseased seedlings.

Fusarium wilt is one of the most serious diseases of watermelon in the Midwest. The disease often causes a one-sided wilt 2-3 weeks after transplanting. Whether a plant is affected, and to what degree, depends on the population of the long-lived spores in the soil that the roots contact. However, Fusarium wilt of watermelon is not known to spread from plant to plant in the field. This is in contrast with a disease such as anthracnose which can spread from plant-to-plant rapidly in one season. Occasionally, Fusarium wilt can be observed affecting commercially produced watermelon transplants in new trays and virgin soilless mix. The most likely explanation for such outbreaks is the introduction of Fusarium wilt on seed. The distribution of Fusarium wilt from seed should appear random. However, we often observe a clustered distribution of affected seedlings as seen in Figure 1. We conducted an investigation to determine whether[Read More…]


As part of a multi-state effort being headed by Dr. Ian Kaplan at Purdue University in the Department of Entomology, we are investigating how to best manage insect pests on cucurbits, in our case watermelons, while having the least possible impact on pollinators. The research is being funded through the USDA/NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative. The premise of this research is based on the fact that neonicotinoid insecticides, which are a versatile and powerful pest management tool, have been implicated as a factor contributing to pollinator declines. Thus, farmers growing pollinator-dependent crops—including watermelons—are confronted with a potential trade-off between two competing aspects of crop production: effective pest suppression and successful pollination. Our objective here is to identify insecticidal management strategies that simultaneously optimize pest suppression while minimizing non-target exposure to cucurbit pollinators. To achieve this objective, we are currently looking for producers to collaborate with members of the Entomology Department[Read More…]


Figure 1. Seedless watermelon varieties in 2016 variety trial that have unique rind patterns

— Notes from Watermelon Research and Development Group Annual Meeting and 2016 Indiana Watermelon Variety Trial We are proud to be in Vincennes, the heart of watermelon producing counties in Indiana. In case you are unfamiliar with watermelon production here, Indiana is just behind Florida, Texas, Georgia, California and South Carolina in watermelon production nationwide. Indiana has more than 7,000 acres of watermelons valued at over $30 million value. In the recent Watermelon Research and Development Group (WRDG) annual meeting, the group that comprise members from academia, government and industry discussed watermelon varieties. In this article, I will summarize my notes from this year’s meeting and discuss the varieties we tested in Indiana watermelon variety trials in 2016. Mini-watermelons One of the interesting things I learned in the meeting is from a talk by Mr. Greg Hitt from Walmart. He shared data that shows Walmart increased the sale of mini watermelons[Read More…]


Figure 2. Older leaves were pruned on cucumber plants.

Tomato is considered one of the most profitable crops grown in high tunnels, but continually growing one single crop leads to build-up of diseases. In addition, growers are facing more competition in selling tomatoes in the market. To enhance resilience of high tunnel system and increase access to consumers, crop diversification is important. In this article, instead of discussing tomatoes, we will focus on another high-value crop, seedless cucumber. Fresh consumed seedless cucumber is a popular crop in local food markets. It sells at a premium price in early seasons as does tomato. Seedless cucumbers grown under protected cultures are parthenocarpic, which do not require pollination. In addition, the climbing habit allows trellising, which maximizes the use of vertical spaces, making seedless cucumber an ideal crop for high tunnel production. Parthenocarpic cucumbers are available in different types. The long ones are often referred to as European, Japanese or English cucumbers. They have thin skins with longitudinal[Read More…]


In issue 619 and 620 of the Vegetable Crops Hotline newsletter I gave you a brief background of the materials used and methods followed during the variety evaluation. I also discussed some of the challenges we encountered while doing the trial work. The varieties evaluated included: Entry # Variety 1 Sephia (Galia type) 2 Tirreno (Italian netted cantaloupe) 3 Rawan (Ananas type) 4 Rowena (Ananas type) 5 Migdal (Galia type) 6 Magnificenza (Italian netted cantaloupe) 7 Kenza (Charentais) 8 Karameza (fully netted cantaloupe) Preliminary data will be discussed in this article. Statistical analysis of all the data has not been concluded and therefore only treatment averages are reported. Yield: One of the criteria that was set for the variety trial was that the fruit size needed to be between 2 – 4 lbs. At Meig’s Farm Magnificenza, Sephia and Kenza produced fruit that varied in weight between 3.28 and 3.96[Read More…]


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