Dan Egel

Clinical Engagement Associate Professor
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Downy mildew of watermelon has been observed on watermelon in Knox County in southwestern Indiana. Downy mildew of cucurbits has also been reported in southwestern Michigan on the Indiana border and central Missouri. 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 because it requires living plant tissues. That means that the fungus-like organism that causes downy mildew 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. On pumpkin and cucumber, downy mildew causes angular yellow lesions on leaves (Figure 1). Lesions on cantaloupe and watermelon tend to be diffuse[Read More…]


Plectosporium lesions on pumpkin fruit are less common.

Recently, I have had a few phone calls about Plectosporium blight on pumpkins. This disease can be difficult to describe in words. However, once observed, Plectosporium blight is easy to remember. Therefore, this article will include photos of the disease. Lesions of Plectosporium blight are most often observed on the stems of affected plants. The lesions are small and irregularly shaped. The lesions often coalesce to form a scabby area (Figure 1 and 2). When the handle of the pumpkin is affected, the marketability of the pumpkin is affected. In severe cases, the pumpkin itself may have lesions of Plectosporium blight.     Plectosporium blight lesions on fruit may be confused with bacterial spot. However, bacterial spot lesions are usually larger than Plectosporium blight lesions and do not coalesce over large areas like Plectosporium blight. This disease may be managed through a combination of cultural and fungicide treatments. Crop rotations[Read More…]


Although unusual in Indiana, powdery mildew can cause infections on watermelon fruit as seen here.

While cantaloupe and pumpkin growers are used to combating powdery mildew in Indiana, watermelon growers may not be familiar with the disease. Occasionally, I observe this disease on watermelon as well. 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 with an emphasis on watermelon. While powdery mildew often causes a white talc-like growth on either side of the leaf, on watermelon the symptom may show up as a chlorotic lesion on the upper side of the leaf (Figure 1).  The talc-like growth on the lower side of the leaf may be more idiffuclut to observe than on other hosts. Occasionally, powdery mildew may be observed on watermelon fruit (Figure 2). This article https://vegcropshotline.org/powdery-mildew-symptoms-vs-variegated-leaves/ has additional information about powdery mildew symptoms. The fungus that causes powdery mildew, Podosphaera xanthii,[Read More…]


whiteflies on cucumber leaf.

Here in Indiana, whitefly problems are rare, but when encountered it is most often in protected ag production (greenhouse or high tunnel) and less often in the field. However, this is the time of year that you may be seeing them in either environment. Whiteflies are not true flies, but rather Hemipteran insects, more closely related to aphids and plant hoppers. They are sap sucking insects that feed on the phloem of the plant, making them efficient vectors of plant pathogens. Whiteflies produce honeydew secretions which can attract other insects or host the growth of sooty mold on infested leaves. There are two main species of whiteflies that may be encountered in Indiana: the greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) and the sweetpotato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci; Figure 1). They can be distinguished by the way in which they hold their wings when at rest on the plant: sweetpotato whiteflies hold their wings[Read More…]


Bacterial spot can cause mostly light colored angular lesions on pumpkin leaves.

I have observed this disease in scattered commercial pumpkin and squash fields across Indiana. Symptoms: Bacterial spot causes ⅛-¼ inch angular leaf lesions that are white to light brown in color (Figure 1). These leaf lesions may be accompanied by yellowing (chlorosis). The more important symptom are the lesions on fruit that are scabby to raised, round and a light brown in color. These lesions are often less than ⅛ inch in diameter and do not extend into the surface of the fruit. However, lesions may become secondarily infected in which case lesions can become an inch or more in diameter. Such lesions may grow into the flesh of the fruit (Figure 2). Any type of fruit lesion can ruin the marketability of the fruit. Biology: Leaf lesions, while unimportant economically, are important in diagnosing bacterial spot before fruit is present. This head start allows growers to begin preventive measures.[Read More…]


Southern rust pustules on corn leaf, and chlorosis on the underside of the leaves. Pustules generally form and erupt on upper surface. (Photo Credit: A. Sisson, Iowa State University

This article is modified from Darcy Telenko’s article about field corn in a recent Purdue Pest and Crop newsletter. Southern rust of corn is normally a disease of tropical areas. During summer months, however, the fungus which causes southern rust, Puccinia polysora, may move into Indiana or other Midwestern states.  Southern rust has officially been confirmed in Posey and Vigo County. If you think you have this disease contact me or submit a sample to the PPDL https://ag.purdue.edu/btny/ppdl/Pages/Submit-A-Sample.aspx Southern rust pustules generally tend to occur on the upper surface of the leaf, and produce chlorotic symptoms on the underside of the leaf (Figure 1). These pustules rupture the leaf surface and are orange to tan in color. They are circular to oval in shape. We are seeing a lot of common rust as well and both diseases could be present on a leaf. Common rust will form pustules on both sides[Read More…]


Downy mildew of cucumber can be recognized by the yellow angular lesions on the top of the leaf.

Cucurbit downy mildew has been observed on cucumber in the southwest corner of Michigan, just across the border from La Porte County and LaGrange Counties, Indiana. All cucurbit growers in Indiana should be scouting for downy mildew. Cucurbit growers in northern Indiana should be 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. In most years, the downy mildew fungus will blow from southern Michigan to Ohio before it tracks south. Many cucumber varieties have some resistance to downy mildew. For susceptible cucumber varieties or[Read More…]


Vegetable growers are used to scouting for pests such as spider mites and aphids. Growers have come to recognize the yellow leaves caused by spider mites and the curled leaves caused by aphids. Growers understand that even after spider mites and aphids are dead, the symptoms of the damage may remain on the affected leaves. Whereas, a leaf distorted by aphids remains distorted even after the aphids are dead, a leaf with symptoms of a foliar disease such as anthracnose of watermelon or early blight of tomato typically contains viable spores even after repeated fungicide applications. So, what is the purpose of fungicide applications? Contact fungicide applications with active ingredients such as chlorothalonil (e.g., Bravo®, Echo®, Equus®, Initiate®) or mancozeb (e.g, Dithane®, Manzate®, Roper®, Penncozeb®) are used to coat the surface of the leaf so that when spores land on a leaf, they are neutralized. While it is true that[Read More…]


Anthracnose of garlic, a new disease to Indiana, may cause sunken, orange lesions on scapes.

Earlier this summer, sunken lesions were observed on garlic scapes on a small farm in east central Indiana. Lesions started out a cream or tan color (Figure 1), however under rainy or humid conditions, spore production caused lesions to turn orange (Figure 2). Larger lesions resulted in the collapse of the scapes. It is estimated that 45 to 50 percent of scapes were affected. Lesions ranged from ¼ to ½ inch long. Samples of these scapes were sent to the Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory in West Lafayette where they were diagnosed as anthracnose of garlic, a new disease to Indiana. This new disease is caused by the fungus Colletotrichum fiorinae. This fungus has also been reported on elephant garlic in New York. Reports from New York suggest that onion is unaffected. In the US, C. fioriniae has also been reported as an Apple post-harvest decay, causing bitter rot on[Read More…]


The 2019 production season started with above-normal rains. The wet conditions affected agriculture production, including watermelon and cantaloupe. In this article, we will review some of the watermelon and cantaloupe problems that are often associated with wet conditions. Manganese toxicity– This nutrient disorder occurs more often on cantaloupe that is grown in soils with pH lower than 5.5. Although liming before planting is a common practice, it is not unusual that we see soil pH that has dropped below 5.5 in sandy soil, especially during wet years. Manganese exists in soil solution as either reduced (Mn2+) or oxidized (Mn3+) form. Plants take up manganese in the reduced form (Mn2+). The proportion of exchangeable Mn2+ increases dramatically as soil pH decreases, and this reaction is promoted in waterlogged soils with low oxygen condition. As raindrops fall through the air, they dissolve CO2 and form enough carbonic acid to lower the pH of[Read More…]