OSU Extension Fruit & Vegetable Report – May 28th, 2024

The OSU Extension Fruit & Vegetable Report is written and published collectively by OSU Extension staff across the state.


Onion plants are off to a quick start this spring. As the plants quickly add leaves, this provides ample opportunity for onion thrips to get started. Scouting for onion thrips is incredibly important early in the season as they become increasingly more difficult to manage as the season progresses and the onion plants become larger and more heavily foliated. Scouting for thrips involves carefully pulling apart onion leaves near the neck and examining down into the crotch of the leaves. On a sunny day, thrips will react to the sudden exposure of sunlight by moving downward, deeper into the leaf collar. As you evaluate management decisions, also be aware that heavy rains may provide assistance in management of onion thrips as the rain washes the thrips out of the leaves or drowns the insect.

Photo by Frank Becker, OSU Extension.

Colorado potato beetles are emerging and becoming active in potato plantings. The adults are very difficult to control with pesticide applications. Control is more effective when applied to newly hatched larvae. Please reference the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide to find effective products for management of the Colorado Potato Beetle. 

Colorado potato beetle larva feeding on potato foliage. Photo by Chris Galbraith, OSU Extension. 

Squash and cucumber continue to be seeded. Striped cucumber beetles are out. As an important reminder, early season control of cucumber beetle is critically important in preventing bacterial wilt in your cucurbit plantings. The threshold for beetles while plants are in the cotyledon stage is 0.5 beetles per plant. The threshold for beetles at the 3-4 leaf stage is 1-2 beetles per plant, and for plants with 4 or more leaves, 3-5 beetles per plant. Scouting during the morning or evening will give you the best results, as beetles are often difficult to find during the heat of the day. Recent chewing and feeding damage can also be indicative of beetle activity. This can be differentiated from “old” feeding damage as the older damage will look scabbed over, but the recent feeding will appear as a “wet” wound.

Cabbage maggot, caterpillar, and swede midge damage is being observed in cole crops. Reports of some early season flea beetle activity have led to some growers already making applications to limit damage to young cole crops. Flea beetle feeding can be scouted for by looking for “shot hole” style feeding patterns on the foliage of the plants. Early season feeding, especially on young transplants can significantly stunt the plants, and in some cases when feeding is severe enough, seedling death can occur. 

High tunnel tomatoes are fruiting and field tomatoes are being planted where growers can get into the fields. 2-4,D drift damage has been observed in some high tunnels. Powdery mildew and thrips are the main pest of concern in greenhouse tomatoes at this point in the season. 

Early blight and powdery mildew have both been found in high tunnel tomatoes. Powdery mildew, as the name describes looks like powdered sugar on the upper leaf surface. These symptoms can develop at any level of the plant.  Early blight, or Alternaria, has an alternating ring/bullseye like pattern, often with a yellow halo around the lesion. Early blight is most often first found on the older foliage near the bottom of the plant.  Please scout your high tunnel tomatoes frequently and thoroughly, especially early season to catch early season disease presence and hopefully prevent major impacts throughout the season. Please read fungicide labels carefully to make sure that the crop and disease are both listed on the label. Remember, the label is the law. 

Recently planted sweet corn is beginning to emerge. Slug damage is being observed, although not severe at this point. Now is also an important time to be checking sweet corn for black cutworm. Cutworms damage the pants by cutting the plant off at or slightly below the soil line, significantly stunting the plant or causing plant death. If infestation levels are high enough, stand loss can occur to the point of necessitating a replant. 


With the mild winter, fruit, vegetable, and agronomic crops alike are getting a quick start in Ohio this year! It seems the pathogens got the memo as well as educators and specialists around the state are reporting an early onset of several diseases on fruit. One disease that we are seeing in orchards this spring is apple powdery mildew.

Powdery mildews are among one of the more recognizable diseases in our specialty crops and can have a significant impact. Some folks are probably familiar with the cucurbit powdery mildew that we find on the cucumbers, zucchini, and other cucurbit crops in our fields in gardens. Powdery mildews are host specific, so the powdery that we observe on apple trees will not lead to powdery mildew infections in our cucurbit crops. They are different species. Usually, we see cucurbit powdery mildew as we get further into summer, around July. That particular pathogen does not overwinter in Ohio and has to be blown in by the wind from areas where it can overwinter.

Apple powdery mildew is quite different, caused by the species Podosphaera leucotricha. Apple powdery mildew can overwinter in fruit buds that were infected in the previous season. Another interesting thing about powdery mildew is that while it does need a higher relative humidity, it does not require free water for development. Many of our other diseases do have that requirement. So, even in drier years, powdery mildew can still pose a challenge.

Powdery mildew is one of those diseases where when we scout, we can observe both the signs and symptoms of the disease. In other words, we can see both the physical evidence of the powdery (Sign: the white fungal growth) as well as the plants response to the infection (Symptom: stunted, crinkled leaves). The first thing you will likely see in spring is the white fuzzy or waxy appearance to the leaves. As the disease persists, leaves will become stunted, crinkled, and brittle. As the season goes on, the disease can spread to the twigs, stunting their growth, and potentially leading to dieback issues. In severe cases, symptoms can show up on fruit resulting in russetted apples.

Photos by Thomas Becker, OSU Extension.

Apple powdery mildew can be managed with some cultural integrated pest management tactics. One tactic is to plant varieties that are less susceptible or potentially resistant to powdery mildew. Another tactic is to plant and manage your trees to allow for good air movement and light penetration. This can lower the relative humidity around the trees and make it more difficult for the pathogen to get established. Chemical controls are also an option. If powdery is a persistent problem in your orchard, it may require the development of a good fungicide program to get adequate control. Contact your county extension educator, one of our state specialists, or reference the Midwest Fruit Pest Management Guide for current fungicide recommendations.


Apples have progressed quickly in their development. Codling moth trap catches are high across the state. Insecticides to control first generation codling moth should be on to slow the second generation. Wooly Apple Aphids are on the move in the trees, as they move from the roots to the limbs. San Jose Scale is present as well and male flight has been observed in southern Ohio. Plum curculio damage present (petal fall applications are best to control infestations). Pear psylla adults active. 

Lacewing eggs hanging from branch. Lacewings are beneficial insects that feeds on aphids and other fruit & vegetable pests. Photo by Frank Becker, OSU Extension. 

Strawberries are ripening and some varieties are in harvest. Main pests at this point are slugs, spittlebugs and birds. Phytophthora leather rot and sun scald being observed in fruit. Brambles are blooming, blueberries setting fruit. 

For more information or if you have questions, please reach out to a member of the Fruit & Vegetable team or your county extension educator.

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