Dan Egel’s Veggie Disease Blog

Dan Egel is an extension plant pathologist with Purdue University who works with vegetable growers across the state of Indiana. This blog will highlight recent disease issues, management options, meeting dates and new publications relevant to vegetable growers. Dan is located just north of Vincennes at the Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center.

Contact Information

Dan Egel
Southwest Purdue Agricultural Program
4369 N. Purdue Road
Vincennes, IN 47591
Phone: 812-886-0198
Email: egel@purdue.edu

www.watermelondr.info

Cucurbit downy mildew has been observed on cucumber and cantaloupe near Wanatah, in La Porte County, Indiana. Downy mildew has also been confirmed on cucumber in St. Joseph County Michigan, just northeast of Elkhart, Indiana as well as on processing pumpkin in central Illinois. Downy mildew of cucurbits has also been reported in southern and central Kentucky and north-central Ohio. 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. 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. Many cucumber varieties have some resistance to downy mildew. For susceptible[Read More…]


Figure 2. Cross stitch with large lesions.

Cross stitch of watermelons is a physiological disorder (not caused by an infectious disease) first reported in 1990s on watermelon fruit. It received the name because the symptom looks like cross stitch. One or more rows of oval-shaped lesions lie along with the longitudinal axis of the fruit. These lesions are normally more close to the stem end of the fruit (Figure 1). Sizes of the lesions range from a quarter inch to more than 2 inches. When the lesions are small, it normally does not affect interior flesh quality. However, if lesions develop into large gaps, it could lead to fruit rot (Figure 2). Cross-stitch symptom has been noticed in several watermelon production areas, however, causes of the symptom is still largely unknown. In most of the years, this is a minor problem. However, we have received more reports of cross-stitch  on watermelon fruit this year. In one case,[Read More…]


For many vegetable growers, the season is in full swing. All that hard work in season preparation, planting and maintenance is paying off with harvest. One of the on-going season maintenance issues is applying fungicides. In other articles, I have described how and when to spray. In this article, I want to address when to stop. To limit the scope of this article, I will concentrate on tomato, cantaloupe and watermelon crops. These are crops where the fruit is consumed, not the foliage. For most vegetable crops, there is no need to apply a fungicide shortly before the final harvest. Foliage needs to be protected to preserve fruit quality. A plant with reduced foliage will produce a smaller fruit and/or fruit that have fewer sugars and other desirable compounds. I don’t know how much foliage needs to be reduced to affect fruit size or quality. However, I do know that for many foliar diseases, symptoms will not be obvious[Read More…]


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…]


Southern blight of tomato thrives under hot, dry conditions. Usually, such conditions are more common in August than early July. However, 2016 has been relatively hot and dry in southwest Indiana. Perhaps for this reason, I have observed this disease in my own tomato plots. This article will discuss the symptoms, biology and management of southern blight of tomato. Southern blight has a wide host range affecting many vegetable, field and ornamental crops. Tomato is the most important host. The disease is caused by the fungus Sclerotium rolfsii. This fungus is related to the one that causes white mold. The first symptom one is likely to observe of southern blight is plant wilt. At the base of the plant, one is likely to notice a canker with sclerotia that may be as large as a sesame seed (Figure 1). These sclerotia are survival structures for the fungus and allow the disease to occur[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…]


Below, I will briefly discuss four diseases that I have observed on tomatoes recently. White mold of tomato – Perhaps the most common symptom of white mold of tomato is the light brown area on the lower stem (Figure 1). This brown area is essentially dead and will result in the wilt and death of the tomato plant above that point. Either on the outside of this dead area or inside the stem, dark, irregularly shaped fungal bodies can usually be found. These fungal bodies (known as sclerotia) are diagnostic of white mold. The fungal spores responsible for white mold are released early in the spring from a very small mushroom (several mushrooms could fit on a dime). The spores will enter a plant where tissue is dead or senescent, such as old flower petals. Fortunately, white mold, once established, will not spread from tomato to tomato plant. However, growers may observe more symptoms as later[Read More…]


The vegetable extension team at Purdue University is always looking for innovative ways to get information to clients quickly. For this reason, we are trying out a new program called veggie texts. The idea is that if we have your mobile phone number and the name of your phone carrier, then we can send you text alerts of 160 characters or less. What type of information should you expect with veggie texts? We may contact you with weather information such as forecast freezes, disease alerts such as late blight of tomato or insect alerts such as corn earworm populations. Cantaloupe and watermelon growers may be contacted when there is a large increase in MELCAST values. Since the alerts are relatively short, we may include links to additional information. To sign up for the veggie text program, please contact us with – Your mobile phone number The name of your phone carrier. Common[Read More…]


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Recently I observed lesions of leaf mold of tomato in our high tunnel at the Southwest Purdue Ag Center.  I thought I would share these photos since the lesions can be variable.   More information about this disease can be found at here.


This disease has been observed in the southern part of Indiana. To identify bacterial wilt, look for the characteristic wilt and beetle feeding on the leaves and stem (Figure 1). The bacterium that causes this disease, Erwinia tracheiphila, is spread by the striped or spotted cucumber beetles. Once bacterial wilt is observed in the field, there is no treatment. To reduce the spread of bacterial wilt, treat for the striped or spotted cucumber beetles. Cucumbers are also susceptible to bacterial wilt. Pumpkins and squash are much less susceptible to bacterial wilt than cantaloupe or cucumbers. Watermelon are not susceptible to bacterial wilt.


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