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The annual spring meeting of the Southwest Indiana Melon and Vegetable Association will take place on Friday, March 8, 2019 at the French Lick Resort and Casino, 8670 West State Road 56, French Lick, IN 47432.  Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. EST.  Topics include: watermelon production in Georgia, food safety update, irrigation of cucurbits, pollinator safety, health of watermelon transplants, and putting the sprayer on the road.  Those who attend the afternoon session, from 1:30 until 3:30 will receive Private Applicator Recertification Credit (PARP).  Registration is $15 and includes lunch.  Individuals who want PARP certification should bring $10.  Please direct questions to Dan Egel, (812) 886-0198; egel@purdue.edu.

Vegetable growers will find information-packed sessions at the Indiana Hort Congress next February. A few of the featured topics are highlighted in this article. Visit inhortcongress.org to see the full schedule and register. Climate will be the focus on Tuesday afternoon in a session sponsored by the USDA Midwest Climate Hub, Midwestern Regional Climate Center, and Purdue Extension. Climatologists and production specialists will take a look at existing climate and weather tools useful for Indiana vegetable and fruit growers. They will also generate discussion on what kinds of information about climate and weather would make planning and production easier in future. They will take results of that discussion back to the ‘shop’ to help plan future work. This will be an excellent opportunity to get up-to-date information about climate AND to help shape what kind of climate information is available and how you can get it in the future. Bring[Read More…]

SWIM meeting * Parke Co. Veg. meeting * Illiana Veg Symposium * Indiana Hort Congress * Small Farm Conference Southwest Indiana Melon and Vegetable Growers’ Technical Meeting Date: November 15, 2018 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm (EST) Location: Southwest Purdue Ag Center (SWPAC), 4369 N. Purdue Road, Vincennes, IN The main focus of the Southwest Indiana Melon and Vegetable Growers’ Technical Meeting is to discuss watermelon and cantaloupe varieties based on results of variety trials conducted at the Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center in 2018. The meeting will start at 5: 00 pm for board members to discuss topics for the upcoming Southwest Indiana Melon and Vegetable Growers Annual Meeting, which will be held on March 8, 2019 in French Lick, IN. Any member who wants to participate in the discussion is welcome. At 6:00 pm, dinner will be served. Following that, we will showcase variety trials.  Any grower interested in becoming a member is[Read More…]

Two new versions of vegetable disease extension bulletins: Downy Mildew of Cucurbits and Fusarium Wilt of Watermelon are available. They can be downloaded at: Downy Mildew of Cucurbits: https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?itemID=23207 Fusarium Wilt of Watermelon: https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?itemID=23211 

Crop rotation is a standard part of vegetable crop production. At its core, crop rotation is a management tactic meant to disrupt pest lifecycles and decrease the incidence of economically damaging infestations of insects and pathogens. However, surprisingly little scientific research appears to have explored which rotations are most effective for breaking pest lifecycles and increasing crop yield. Most vegetable production guides, for example, do not provide any specific rotations, and just provide the general advice: “Separate similar crops or families of crops as much as possible.” If one digs around online, some rotations are recommended by some prominent organic vegetable growers, but the scientific justification of these rotations is not clear. To better understand the value of diversity in crop rotations, researchers in the Departments of Entomology at Purdue and Penn State University are collaborating to explore how crop species relatedness influences pest populations in crop rotations. At the[Read More…]

Figure 1. Striped Cucumber Beetle feeding on a watermelon.

Striped cucumber beetle can be a significant pest in watermelon production systems. These pests can cause feeding damage to roots, stems, leaves, and flowers of plants as well as the watermelon fruit itself (Figure 1). In large enough densities, this damage can lead to economic loss. The economic threshold for striped cucumber beetles in watermelon has been set at 5 beetles per plant, since they are not susceptible to bacterial wilt. When densities of the beetles reach this level, growers should treat their fields with an insecticide to avoid yield loss. To make good decisions, pest densities should be determined with scouting. To investigate the pressure of striped cucumber beetles on commercial watermelon fields in Indiana we worked with 16 growers during the summers of 2017-18. Fields ranged in size from less than half an acre to 100 acres. The growers used a variety of management strategies and insect scouting[Read More…]

Insecticides are often needed to control pests in vegetable crops, but in crops that require pollinators we often worry about the impact those insecticides may have on those pollinators (Figure 1). In the summer of 2018, a team of researchers at Purdue University explored the effects of insecticide applications on watermelon yield across Indiana, considering their impacts on both pests and pollinators. Using 5 of the Purdue Agricultural Centers (PACs), pairs of ½ acre watermelons plots were planted, each in the middle of a 15-acre corn field (10 total plots) (Figure 2). The two watermelon plots at each site were assigned either to a conventional or an integrated pest management (IPM) system. The corn surrounding the conventionally managed watermelons had a neonicotinoid seed treatment, the watermelons were given a neonicotinoid soil drench at transplant, and 4-5 pyrethroid sprays were applied throughout the summer regardless of pest pressure. The IPM system[Read More…]

We are going to continue the study of evaluating grafted cucumbers for early season production in greenhouses and high tunnels by collaborating with farmers. You will find what we have learned through the process in the previous article. The same as last year, we are going to supply grafted and normal cucumber plants for free. These plants were grown in a conventional greenhouse. We will use untreated rootstock seeds, but they are not certified organic. What we want for you is to grow the same number and variety of grafted and normal cucumber plants, and keep track of the yields. We will provide a stipend for your efforts in tracking the data. In addition, we encourage farmers to learn grafting technique and produce grafted plants on your own. We will provide you with technical support and help with the process on site if it is needed. If you are interested[Read More…]

Figure 1. Cucumbers were grown in a greenhouse in April 2018

Cucumbers are extremely sensitive to cold. Locally grown cucumbers are almost only available in the summer. While in Asia, without the use of fancy heated greenhouses, cucumbers can grow all winter. Growing grafted cucumbers with cold tolerant squash rootstock is one of the key factors making this possible. Since 2016, we started to evaluate opportunities of using grafted plants to extend early season cucumber production under protected cultural systems in the Midwest. We observed promising results in our research trials. However, knowing research trials can only tell part of the story, we initiated multiple on-farm trials across Indiana to better understand if and under what circumstances growers would benefit from this technique. This article discusses the lessons we have learned so far and raises questions that need to be answered. Heated greenhouses A pronounced advantage of using grafted cucumbers was observed in the situations that cucumbers were grown in soils[Read More…]

charcoal rot

This disease was identified on a long Asian cucumber growing in a high tunnel in Mid-June in Knox County. The first symptom noted was wilting of the cucumber plant. Upon closer examination, a light, gray necrosis was observed on the lower portion of the plant. In Figure 1, you may notice dark spots in the necrotic area. These symptoms, plus the resin-like drops on the stem might look like gummy stem blight. However, a look under the microscope revealed fungal structures and spores that were not from the gummy stem blight fungus. Plus, gummy stem blight is rare in a greenhouse situation where there is little moisture. When we isolated for a fungus, we found numerous micro-sclerotia. The sample was sent up to campus to confirm that the fungus was Macrophomina phaseolina, causal agent of charcoal rot. The charcoal rot fungus has many hosts and the fungus is not new[Read More…]

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