MELCAST 2018

MELCAST is a weather-based disease-forecasting program that helps growers schedule foliar fungicides. MELCAST stands for MELon disease forCASTer. This program, designed by Dr. Rick Latin, Professor of Plant Pathology at Purdue University, keeps track of weather conditions so that cantaloupe and watermelon growers can apply foliar fungicides to their crops when they are most needed. The foliar diseases that MELCAST was designed for are Alternaria leaf blight, anthracnose and gummy stem blight. In a typical year, MELCAST will save growers 2 to 3 foliar applications of fungicides without sacrificing yield. MELCAST works by having growers apply fungicides at specific Environmental Favorability Index (EFI) values instead of using a calendar-based schedule. The extension bulletin “Foliar Disease Control using MELCAST” BP-67 describes this program in more detail.

The Purdue MELCAST system allows growers to apply foliar fungicides according to weather conditions instead of using a calendar-based system.

The Purdue MELCAST system allows growers to apply foliar fungicides according to weather conditions instead of using a calendar-based system.

To use MELCAST, follow these steps:

  1. Apply your first foliar fungicide application when vines first touch within a row or earlier.
  2. Find a MELCAST site near your farm from Table 1. Select a MELCAST site near enough that the weather is similar to your field.
  3. Using either the Internet melcast.info or the toll-free phone number (800) 939-1604, write down the EFI value on the date when the first fungicide was applied on your MELCAST Record Sheet (contact me for a hard copy). Note that the EFI values are cumulative.  That is, the values keep increasing.
  4. It is not necessary to read the MELCAST EFI values every day. Keep in mind, however that cantaloupe growers will apply a foliar fungicide again at 20 EFI values and watermelon growers will use a 35 EFI threshold.  So, when the EFI values are close to the threshold, watch the MELCAST EFI values closely.
  5. When the EFI threshold has been reached or is close for your site, apply a foliar fungicide and write down the new EFI value for the date when the spray was made. If at all possible, do not let the EFI values go over the threshold.  It is better to apply a fungicide before the threshold is reached than to wait until the threshold has gone over.
  6. If 14 days have expired and the threshold has not been reached, apply a foliar fungicide. This is because after 14 days, new growth will have occurred and some of the product applied 14 days ago will have weathered.  Again, when the next fungicide application has been made note the EFI value.

Using MELCAST is much like keeping track of the mileage for oil changes in your truck. Note the accumulated EFI values when you make your first spray much as you would write down the mileage on your truck when you change the oil. Make your next spray when the EFI threshold nears the threshold by keeping track of the accumulating EFI values much as you would change the oil in your truck every 4,000 miles.

If you choose to view MELCAST information on the Internet, go to melcast.info.  You will see a table with several MELCAST sites around Indiana as well as in other states. The table also has more detailed information about each MELCAST location. Click on the location nearest your farm.

The next view will be of a few paragraphs I write every week about weather conditions and a table with weather data for the site you have chosen. This data includes EFI’s for cantaloupe and watermelon for the past 7 days, total precipitation, high temperature and growing degree days. Below the table is a link for the past week’s data and the state summary.

If the Indiana state summary is chosen, all the Indiana MELCAST sites can be viewed along with the EFI values for the past 7 days and, a new feature this year, a 14-day EFI total for each site.  All EFI values are updated on the Internet 7 days a week.

A phone call to the number given above will allow one to hear a pre-recording of the days EFI values across Indiana. These recording will be made Monday through Friday.

It is possible to sign up for a free hard copy of the weekly MELCAST Update newsletter (during the season) by contacting Dan Egel.

Another new item in 2018—several new MELCAST sites have been added. These new sites all represent Purdue Ag Centers which are taking part in a study. A list of all the MELCAST sites can be found in Table 1.

Table 1: Location of MELCAST sites for 2018. Growers should select a site near where they are growing cantaloupe or watermelon. Go to melcast.info for more information.

Location Description
Daviess County Old HWY 50 and HWY 57, Washington, IN
Decker Decker, IN
Gibson County Owensville, IN
Goshen Elkhart Co. Fairgrounds, Goshen, IN
Jackson County Vallonia, IN
NE Agricultural Center 16 mi W of Fort Wayne, IN
Oaktown Oaktown, IN
Pinney-Purdue Agricultural Center 2 mi NW of Wanatah, IN
Richmond Richmond, IN
Rockville Rockville, IN
SE Purdue Ag Center 1 mi W of Butlerville, IN
Sullivan Carlisle, IN
SW Purdue Ag Center 6 miles N of Vincennes
Throckmorton Purdue Ag Center 9 mi S of West Lafayette, IN
Vincennes Lincoln High School, Vincennes, IN
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