103 articles tagged "Cucurbits".

Figure 1. Squash bug and its eggs (photo credit John Obermeyer)

Squash bug is the most consistent insect pest of squash and pumpkins and is the most difficult to control. The key to management is early detection and control of the nymphs. The adults are extremely difficult to kill (Figure 1). Foliar insecticides should be applied to control the nymphs (Figure 2) when you have more than an average of one egg mass per plant. When you find egg masses, mark them with flags and check every day or two to see when they hatch. When many of the egg masses are hatching, that is the time to begin application. Since eggs are laid and hatch over an extended period of time, several applications may be required. Brigade®, Mustang Max® and Warrior® have provided excellent control.  


I have received several calls about pumpkins recently. This article will outline a few steps growers should think about to prevent diseases in pumpkins. Virus diseases – There are several virus diseases that affect pumpkins in the Midwest. The most important diseases include: papaya ring spot, watermelon mosaic and zucchini yellow mosaic virus. Aphids transmit all these diseases. Many of the aphids responsible are carried up from the south each year on winds. Therefore, aphids with virus are more common later in the summer; pumpkins planted later in the season are more likely to be affected with one of the virus diseases listed above. Plant pumpkins by about June 15 to avoid having the fruit set during the period of high virus disease pressure. Powdery mildew – It is nearly impossible to find a pumpkin vine in August without powdery mildew. However, this disease does not have to affect production. The first decision a[Read More…]


This disease is more likely to develop during periods of heavy rains in relatively poorly drained soils. June started out dry for many areas of Indiana, however recent rains increase the likelihood of Phytophthora diseases. Phytophthora fruit rot of watermelon causes large, soft areas to develop on mature watermelon fruit. These lesions can be several inches across and are often covered with a white mold. The lesions usually form first on the bottom of the fruit, close to where the fruit comes into contact with the soil. Further development of the disease often results in lesions on the top of the fruit as well. The first application of a systemic fungicide for this disease should occur when watermelon are about softball stage. Since Phytophthora does not usually affect the foliage of watermelon, there is no need to apply fungicides for this disease until fruit are present. Applications to small fruit may include[Read More…]


We have received a number of reports of outbreaks of spider mites, primarily in watermelons in the field and cucumbers in high tunnels. Spider mite damage can be recognized by the chlorosis often observed on older leaves (Figure 1).  Plus, the underside of leaves affected by spider mites often appears ‘dirty’ due to the debris caught by the webbing (Figure 2).  The problems in high tunnels are not unexpected because one of the primary causes of mortality in mite populations is rainfall washing them off the plants and, of course, that is lacking completely in high tunnels. In addition, the warmer temperatures present in high tunnels allow mites to complete generations faster so populations can build to high levels quickly. The hot weather recently is helping to drive population increases in fields as well. In both scenarios, we don’t really have treatment thresholds for mites. Generally speaking, if populations are increasing,[Read More…]


We sometimes hear that excessive nitrogen could delay fruit set, stimulate excessive vine growth, and depress overall yield of pumpkins, but it is often unclear how much nitrogen is too much. This article reviews research on nitrogen fertilizer rates for pumpkins, and discusses the potential factors that might affect the recommended nitrogen rate. In a study conducted in 1987 and 1988 in Kilbourne, IL, four nitrogen rates were compared: 50, 100, 150 and 175 lb N/acre. The first three rates (50, 100 and 150 lb N/acre) were applied through fertigation, while the highest rate (175 lb N/acre)  was applied preplant and about a month after seeding. The study found the highest early and total marketable yields were obtained with fertigation of 100 lb N/acre. The lowest total yield was associated with the lowest nitrogen rate (50 lb N/acre). Fertigation with 150 lb N/acre and dry-blend with 175 lb N/acre delayed[Read More…]


Figure 1. Aphids on tomatoes in a high tunnel (Photo credit Wenjing Guan)

We have begun to receive the first reports of aphid outbreaks in high tunnels on tomato, pepper, and cucumber (Figure 1). Aphids are a very common problem in high tunnels because the covering excludes rainfall, which is a major mortality factor for small insects like aphids. Some growers are interested in using biological control in their high tunnels because the ability to contain natural enemies within the tunnels increases the likelihood of achieving control. Based on our experience, we believe that lacewing larvae hold the greatest promise for successful biological control of aphids in high tunnels. Because they don’t fly, they are less likely to leave the high tunnel than many other biological control agents. There are a number of biological control suppliers who can provide lacewing larvae for growers. For growers interested in chemical control, some of the insecticides that could be expected to provide good control and are[Read More…]


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White mold of watermelon – Usually when I write about a vegetable disease it is because the disease may cause important economic loss. Once in a while, however, a disease I find is more a curiosity than a real problem. So, go ahead and read this article about white mold of watermelon. But please don’t worry about this disease. Simply, watch for these symptoms and let me know if you have questions. Readers may have heard me ‘talk’ about white mold of tomatoes. The fungus that causes white mold, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, has a wide host range. Important hosts include bean, cabbage, potato, lettuce and sunflower in addition to tomato. More about the disease on tomato can be found here. If you have never heard me talk about white mold of watermelon, don’t feel left out. I don’t talk about white mold of watermelon since I have only observed the disease twice in 21[Read More…]


Figure 2. Wilt cucumber plants in a high tunnel

  Last week, we were called by a few watermelon growers who reported their newly planted watermelon seedlings were dead (Figure 1 ). After closely inspecting the affected plants, we did not find any pathogens. This reminded us of what happened to our cucumbers back in early April in our high tunnel. We will review the cucumber story first, and rethink what might have happened to the watermelons. Cucumbers were planted on March 30 in a high tunnel located at Southwest PurdueAgricultural Center (SWPAC), Vincennes, IN. The lowest air temperature after planting was recorded at 37.5°F inside the high tunnel, which should not be low enough to cause frost damage. However, we lost 40% to 80% of the newly planted cucumbers depending on varieties. The symptoms were similar to water deficiency-caused plant wilt (Figure 2 ). Most of the dead plants had intact stems, however, we did find wire worms[Read More…]


Figure 1. Striped cucumber beetles on melon plants

We found our first striped cucumber beetle on Friday, May 20 and several more on May 23 (Figure 1). Given the cool weather, this is a little earlier than we would have expected. As the temperatures warm up this week, it would not be surprising for cucumber beetles to become very numerous in our melon and squash fields. Striped cucumber beetles are more attracted to squash so growers with those crops should look there first to see if the beetles are active in their area. Growers who direct seeded crops treated with FarMore® insecticide can expect about 3 weeks of control of striped cucumber beetles from that treatment. Growers who grow transplants from seeds treated with FarMore® will receive no benefit from those treatments once plants are in the field because the 3 weeks of control have ended. Likewise, growers who treated at planting with Platinum® or Admire Pro® can[Read More…]


The cool, wet weather we are experiencing is perfect for the root and seed maggots, namely cabbage maggot, onion maggot, and seedcorn maggot. One way of avoiding damage from these pests is to wait until the soils warm up to 70o F before planting, but that is not always possible. The use of row covers early in the season can physically prevent the flies from being able to lay their eggs on the soil near the base of the plants. There are some insecticides available, which vary by crop. Lorsban®, for the crops on which it is labeled, is probably the most consistent of the available insecticides. Capture LFR® has shown decent efficacy on melons and other crops. Melon growers who are putting Admire Pro® or Platinum® on as a soil drench at planting should not expect any control of seedcorn maggots from those applications.


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