Cucurbit Downy Mildew Spreads to Squash, Pumpkins and Watermelons in Ohio

Downy mildew lesions on pumpkin. Photo by Francesca Rotondo.

We are coming to the end of the cucurbit growing season, and until this week had only seen downy mildew on cucumbers and a few cantaloupes in this state.  However, this Sunday my colleague Francesca Rotondo found a “fresh” infection (it had not been visible a few days before) of downy mildew in our pumpkin research plot at the OARDC in Wooster. Today we confirmed downy mildew in acorn squash and watermelons in our sentinel plot nearby.

At this time of year, the choice to apply downy mildew-active fungicides depends on the progress of the crop. If pumpkins or squash are already mature and foliage is not needed to finish fruit ripening, it is possible to forego fungicide application since downy mildew affects only leaves, not stems and fruit. However, keep in mind that defoliation can lead to sunburn of fruits if we get some hot sunny days. Also note that allowing downy mildew to run rampant through a cucurbit field contributes overall to the inoculum density and puts other cucurbits on the farm or on neighboring farms at risk.

Cucurbit downy mildew fungicide recommendations can be found here.  Phytophthora fruit rot can also be a problem so fungicides that help suppress Phytophthora should be used in fields where this pathogen is or has been present in recent years. Downy mildew fungicides that have activity against Phytophthora are Orondis Opti, Orondis Ultra, Ranman, Elumin and Zampro. The fungicide product ratings for cucurbit diseases can be found on page 130 of the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide.

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