Outbreaks of cucumber downy mildew on two commercial farms in Monroe County, MI were detected on June 29. Monroe County is in southeast Michigan and borders Ohio’s Lucas County. In addition, spores of the downy mildew pathogen have been captured in spore traps in four Michigan counties, so downy mildew is ramping up and very likely to be in cucumbers in northern Ohio at this time.
Although the sunny, dry, warm conditions of the past 5 days or so do not favor downy mildew epidemics, growers in northern Ohio should protect cucumbers, melons and giant pumpkins with appropriate fungicides as outlined here. Squash and pumpkins are generally much less susceptible than cucumbers, melons and giant pumpkins to the group of isolates of the downy mildew pathogen that circulates early in the Great Lakes Region. The second group affects all cucurbits and usually migrates from the southeastern states to Ohio in late July or August.
Although daytime temperatures are expected to be > 90°F for the next two weeks, cooler nighttime temperatures, high humidity and intermittent rainstorms may allow initiation and spread of downy mildew disease foci.
There are a number of downy mildew lookalikes, especially angular leaf spot, a bacterial disease, and anthracnose. If you aren’t sure and would like a lab confirmation, send leaf samples to the OSU Vegetable Pathology Lab for diagnosis. The diagnostic service is free for Ohio growers. Doing so will also help us track downy mildew on cucurbit crops across the state of Ohio.