This title should seem familiar as a slight twist on the famous John Denver tune from 1971. With temperatures in the low to mid 90’s for at least three days last week across most of the state, fruit that were not properly covered in the canopy were placed at a higher risk for getting sunburned.
Based on observations over several years, fruit that are cut off the vine tend to burn more readily than those that remain on the vine, likely a function of being able to evapotranpirate enough moisture to stave off burning. As clade 2 downy mildew was reported on August 13 (active on pumpkin/squash), fields that were not protected suffered almost 100% defoliation with 10-14 days. Amazingly this photo with near total canopy loss had nearly no detectable sun burned fruit despite several fruit actually being desiccated to the point where they were shriveling in the sun! If these fruit were cut off the vine, I would have expected significant rind burning to occur.
While there are a few “white washing” products on the market to spray on fruit in the field to prevent burning, they have not been investigated at OSU. The best prevention is a good canopy through harvest. The next best strategies though more labor intensive would be to cut and move fruit to a shaded location to cure naturally. If fruit are in a u-pick patch, moving them to distinct piles and covering with shade cloth may also be a possible solution.