Phytophthora Blight on Pumpkin Fruits

Phytophthora blight on pumpkins received in October 2021 by the OSU Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab in Wooster. Photo by Francesca Rotondo.

This has been a rainy growing season in much of Ohio and other states east of the Mississippi River. With intense rain events leading to standing water in fields and stretches of hot weather, both favorable for Phytophthora capsici, the cause of Phytophthora blight, the disease has been such a problem that shortages of jack-o-lantern as well as pie pumpkins are expected this Fall.  If Phytophthora blight was detected in a field at any time this season, growers are advised to harvest mature, uninfected fruits as early as possible.  These fruits need to be laid out individually (not touching, so bins are not acceptable) in a shaded area with good ventilation so that they can cure.  A barn floor would be an ideal location since they would not get rained on, but outside under a tree (to prevent sunscald) would be better than nothing.  If putting them outside, do NOT put them on a tarp or plastic that would tend to hold rainwater and spread the disease to the other fruits.  If any of these fruits start to show signs of infection (discolored areas or white, cottony growth – see photo) remove them from the area immediately and discard them in an area away from the fields or curing location.

Dr. Meg McGrath of Cornell University found that hosing pumpkins off first to remove soil (using a garden hose with a trigger spray nozzle) was the second most important step in reducing disease incidence (getting them out of the field being the most important).  Washed fruits need to be dried as quickly as possible. Dipping fruit in 10% Clorox, GreenShield or Kocide was no better than just hosing them off, and these products are not labeled for this use.

Pumpkins (or other cucurbits) with symptoms in the field should be removed and destroyed away from the field and surface water sources. Leaving them in the field will contribute to inoculum buildup; if Phytophthora blight was present in a field, practice rotation of at least four years away from susceptible crops including all cucurbits, peppers, tomatoes, and beans.

Ron Becker contributed to an earlier version of this post in 2007. We thank the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association’s Ohio Vegetable and Small Fruit Research and Development Program for financial support of our disease diagnostics program.

 

 

New Reports of Downy Mildew on Pumpkins and Cucumbers in Ohio

Downy mildew symptoms on untreated pumpkin leaves in Clark County, OH. Photo by Jim Jasinski.

Downy mildew was reported for the first time in pumpkins in Ohio in Clark County at the OSU Western Agricultural Research Station. Jim Jasinski noticed possible symptoms in an untreated control in a pumpkin research trial as many as 10 days ago, but the disease did not progress rapidly in last week’s heat. However, we were able to confirm downy mildew today. This is so far the furthest north that downy mildew has been found and reported on pumpkins or squash in the US. It is likely caused by Clade 1 of the pathogen, which comes from SE US and is more aggressive on pumpkins, squash and watermelons than other cucurbits.  Pumpkin and squash growers throughout Ohio should apply appropriate protectant fungicides now and scout fields thoroughly. Growers in Clark County should begin a fungicide program with downy mildew-effective fungicides now.

In the last week or so Ohio Master Gardener Volunteers in our Citizen Science project to monitor this disease have also reported downy mildew on cucumbers in Belmont, Jefferson and Geauga counties. Rainy or cloudy weather and moderate temperatures are expected this week in much of Ohio – these conditions are ideal for downy mildew.

For all cucurbits: If favorable conditions for downy mildew persist and downy mildew is present in your area, add effective fungicides shown in green in the Table to the spray program. Tank mix with a protectant fungicide, alternate fungicides with different modes of action (FRAC codes) and follow the label restrictions and requirements. Shorten the application interval to 7 days under favorable weather for downy mildew.

  1. Forum, Presidio, Quadris, Zampro and Revus are not recommended. Curzate may be moderately effective in some locations.
  2. Follow this blog, Twitter @OhioVeggieDoc or the Cucurbit Downy Mildew IPM PIPE for downy mildew reports.

Map of US counties with cucurbit downy mildew reports. https://cdm.ipmpipe.org/

Wayne County IPM Notes From August 9 – 13

Vegetable Crops

Squash vine borer damaged plants.

This week brought about many sightings of squash vine borer larva. The adult squash vine borer moths were actively flying and lay eggs about a month ago. We are now seeing plants that are declining in health and when inspected further, are oozing frass and have stems that look shredded. When we split the stem of these plants, in nearly every instance, we found at least one, if not several squash vine borer larvae. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to reverse such severe damage.

A large squash vine borer found feeding in a pumpkin plant.

Flea beetles are feeding on young cabbage and broccoli, and the cabbage worm butterflies are finding their way into these plantings as well. We are starting to see some damage in peppers from the European corn borer and expect the ECB and CEW numbers in the traps to increase in the next week or so.

Small Fruit and Orchards

As apples and peaches are harvested, do not let your guard down on the late season generations of codling moth and oriental fruit moth. This past week was another week of rising codling moth numbers, and consistent oriental fruit moth catches, although the oriental fruit moth numbers have not gone back over threshold.

Grapes damaged by grape berry moth larvae.

Grapes are starting to ripen, and as the season progresses, we are still finding consistent trap catches of grape berry moth. Although it may be too late for some varieties, you may still be able to protect later maturing varieties with a treatment for grape berry moth.

Cucurbit Downy Mildew Outbreaks Increasing

Cucurbit downy mildew outbreak map. https://cdm.ipmpipe.org.

We have three new reports of downy mildew on cucumbers this week, all from home or community gardens in Coshocton, Muskingum and Geauga counties. Thanks to OSU Extension educators David Marrison and Clifton Martin for the finds in Coshocton and Muskingum counties. The Geauga County outbreak was reported by one of our Ohio Master Gardener Volunteers participating in a multi-state Citizen Science project to monitor and report cucurbit downy mildew (thanks Annie!). Numerous reports in other states show that downy mildew is on the move (see map), mostly still in cucumbers and melons. In Ohio the cucumber/melon outbreaks have been in the northern and central counties, likely caused by the downy mildew “pathotype” that circulates in the Great Lakes region and infects only cucumbers and melons. However, last week downy mildew was reported on squash and pumpkins in Central Kentucky and on squash in Western New York. The downy mildew “pathotype” that infects squash and other cucurbits moves up into the Midwest from the deep South, so Ohio growers, especially in the southern counties, should step up scouting of all cucurbits and apply protectant fungicides such as chlorothalanil products. When downy mildew is confirmed nearby and conditions are conducive (cool, rainy, humid, overcast), more effective fungicides should be applied.

Spray Program Recommendations for Ohio Cucurbit Growers

  1. Northern and Central Ohio cucumber and melon growers: add effective fungicides shown in green in the table to the spray program now. Tank mix with a protectant fungicide such as chlorothalanil (Bravo, Equus, etc.), alternate fungicides with different modes of action (FRAC codes) and follow the label restrictions and requirements. Shorten the application interval to 7 days under favorable weather for downy mildew.
  2. Southern and Central Ohio cucurbit growers (all types): apply a protectant fungicide on a 7-10 day schedule now.

If favorable conditions for downy mildew persist and downy mildew is present in your area, add effective fungicides shown in green in Table 3 to the spray program. Tank mix with a protectant fungicide, alternate fungicides with different modes of action (FRAC codes) and follow the label restrictions and requirements. Shorten the application interval to 7 days under favorable weather for downy mildew.

  1. Forum, Presidio, Quadris, Zampro and Revus are not recommended. Curzate may be moderately effective in some locations.
  2. Follow this blog, Twitter @OhioVeggieDoc or the Cucurbit Downy Mildew IPM PIPE for downy mildew reports.

Click to enlarge.

Wayne County IPM Notes from July 19 – 23

Vegetable Crops

Powdery mildew found on a cucurbit plant in a Wayne County field.

The Vegetable Pathology Lab at OARDC has confirmed several more cases of downy mildew, on both cucumbers and cantaloupe. It is important to take steps to either protect your crop or stop the spread of any ongoing infections. Powdery mildew is also spreading rapidly through the area. Although some heavy rains may have slowed its spread, favorable conditions have led to some fields rapidly becoming infected.

Flea beetles feeding on young green cabbage plants.

Bacterial diseases continue to spread in pepper and tomato plantings. Pay close attention to these crops in particular, and make sure that you are taking the necessary precautions so as to not spread bacterial diseases. Bacteria can be spread from plant to plant via clothing, equipment, or animals. More from APS

Flea beetles are feeding heavily on recently planted cole crops, which left uncontrolled can cause stunted and underperforming plants. Another insect we have seen quite a few of is the squash vine borer. Although these are not typically going to harm large numbers of plants, they can still be a nuisance, especially in smaller plantings.

Small Fruit and Orchards

 This week we found our first incidence of scab in apples. While this was only an isolated find on a few leaves, it is a good reminder to take some time to scout your apple trees and look for any signs of scab. Oriental fruit moth numbers were significantly above threshold again this week. Japanese beetles were also

Severe damage from Japanese beetles feeding on the foliage of apple trees.

still feeding heavily in many of the fruit crops we scout. Spotted wing drosophila are still being found in all of our traps, and for anyone with small fruit in the area, it is recommended that you treat for SWD.

Cucurbit Downy Mildew Continues to Spread in Northern Ohio

Downy mildew map. https://cdm.ipmpipe.org

After last week’s very wet weather, downy mildew has appeared on cucumbers in a research plot on the OSU Muck Crops Research Station (Huron County) and on cucumbers and melons in sentinel plots on the OSU CFAES Wooster campus (Wayne County) and the OSU North Central Agricultural Research Station in Fremont (Sandusky County). In addition, downy mildew continues to spread in commercial fields in Seneca County. Downy mildew is likely to be present in cucumbers and/or melons in other northwest and northcentral Ohio counties and growers should protect these crops with appropriate fungicides. Fungicides must be applied preventatively – once plants are infected they will show symptoms within ~5-7 days even if fungicides are applied after infection. Only the fungicide Curzate has moderate “kick-back” activity.

OSU is part of a multi-state cucurbit downy mildew monitoring project, for which this year we have enlisted the help of Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) as Citizen Scientists in counties throughout Ohio. Most (25) are monitoring cucumber and squash plants in their gardens, while six groups of MGVs are managing and monitoring full sentinel plots. We have had no reports of downy mildew on cucurbits outside of northern Ohio and none in squash, pumpkins, gourds, or watermelons in any part of Ohio. We will continue monitoring and reporting downy mildew occurrences as they happen.

Cucumber downy mildew – photo by J. Amrhein.

If you suspect cucurbit downy mildew on your farm or in your garden, please send pictures (as close-up as you can) of the tops and undersides of affected leaves to me by text (330-466-5249) or email (miller.769@osu.edu).  Please include your name and the name of the town or city nearest you.

Downy mildew sporulating in a lesion on the underside of a cucumber leaf. Photo by F. Rotondo.

Basil Downy Mildew Spotted in Wayne County, Ohio

Basil plants with severe downy mildew symptoms in a big box store garden center in Wooster, OH. Photo by F. Rotondo.

This is shaping up to be a summer of downy mildews in Ohio. Rainstorms, high humidity, overcast skies and cool-ish nighttime temperatures are very conducive to downy mildew occurrence and spread. We reported the first “sightings” of cucumber downy mildew last week in Seneca and Wayne Counties in Ohio, and today OSU diagnostician Dr. Francesca Rotondo spotted a very severe outbreak of downy mildew in potted basil in a big box store garden center in Wooster (see photos). The pathogens that cause downy mildew in cucurbits and basil are different and don’t cross-infect among the two different plant groups.  However, they do respond similarly to environmental conditions.

Basil plants with severe downy mildew in a garden center in Wooster, OH.

The garden center manager in Wooster was notified and will have the diseased basil plants removed and destroyed promptly.

Management options for commercial  growers are 1) resistant varieties and 2) fungicides applied preventatively. Dr. Andy Wyenandt and colleagues at Rutgers University recently published an excellent discussion of available management tactics, including those for conventional and organic commercial basil producers. Information is also available on the Basil Ag Pest Monitor website, including photos of symptoms, management options and a map of basil downy mildew reports.

Management options are limited for home gardeners – resistant varieties are the most viable choice. In established garden basil plantings of susceptible varieties, monitor plants closely and remove and destroy leaves and stems with downy mildew symptoms. This may or may not slow disease progress, depending on environmental conditions and the presence of inoculum in nearby plantings. Leaves without symptoms are safe to eat, so if downy mildew appears in one’s garden basil, it may be time to make pesto or a nice Caprese salad before the disease spreads.

Wayne County IPM Notes from the Week of July 12th – July 16th

Vegetable Crops

Of most importance, the Vegetable Pathology Lab in Wooster confirmed Downy Mildew on a cucumber plot at OARDC. Cucumber growers are highly encouraged to begin taking action to protect their plants, especially as more cases are confirmed around the area.

Squash vine borer on a pumpkin plant. Tommy Becker photo.

Japanese beetles are out in force this year and continue to be one of the most consistent insect pests from week to week on a wide range of crops. Other insect pests of note included Colorado Potato Beetles that have migrated off of harvested potato plantings in into tomato and eggplant plantings. In squash, we have still been finding quite a few squash bug egg masses. Squash Vine Borers have also been spotted in some area pumpkin plantings.

Colorado Potato Beetles feeding on a tomato plant. Tommy Becker photo.

During these heavy rains, we have noticed a significant amount of soil splashed up onto the plants and fruit. This will likely encourage more disease incidence. Accordingly, take extra time and care to scout your crops in the coming weeks.

Sweet corn pests like corn ear worm and European corn borer are not showing much activity in our traps. We occasionally find damaged tassels from ECB feeding, however, we have yet to have any fields go over the 10% damage threshold.

Small Fruit and Orchards

 Between last week and this week, we have seen a sustained flight of oriental fruit moth in area peach blocks as our traps have been well over threshold for the last two weeks. Our codling moth traps still do not show much activity.

Over ripe Lodi apple that had spilt following a heavy rain.

We did find some interesting things while scouting apples this week, including blister spot on some “Delicious” apple varieties and Lodi apples that had burst and fell off the trees due to being over ripe.

As a note for all small fruit growers, all of our traps for SWD in the area are currently catching SWD, therefore, we recommend you treat your small fruit. Pay close attention to the label, especially the REI (re-entry interval) and PHI (pre-harvest interval). Another note for all fruit crops, Japanese beetles are feeding on grapes, apples, peaches, and blueberries. The beetles can do significant defoliation as well as damage to the fruit.

Cucumber Downy Mildew Confirmed in Northern Ohio

Cucurbit downy mildew occurrences in the eastern US. https://cdm.ipmpipe.org.

Downy mildew was reported on pickling cucumbers in Seneca County today. The field was heavily damaged, with about 90% of the plants showing symptoms. We also found one confirmed downy mildew lesion in our sentinel plot in Wooster (Wayne County). These are the first reports for 2021 of cucurbit downy mildew in Ohio, following an outbreak in Chatham-Kent, Ontario reported on June 17. Growers in northern Ohio should protect cucumbers  and melons with effective downy mildew fungicides such as Orondis Opti, Ranman, Omega, Elumin, Previcur Flex or Zing!. Remember to alternate products in different FRAC groups and tank mix with a chlorothalanil product or other protectant fungicide – except for Zing!, which contains chlorothalanil in the premix.  Check the labels carefully for use instructions and restrictions. Fungicides must  be applied preventatively – they  are far less effective if applied after  infection.

Growers in central Ohio should intensify scouting of cucumbers and melons and apply a protectant fungicide. Look for yellow or tan angular lesions delimited by veins on the top surface of leaves, and fuzzy grey/brown growth on the undersides of the lesions. With a good hand lens or a smartphone camera with high magnification you may be able to see small dark brown/purple spots within the fuzzy growth. These are the spores of the downy mildew pathogen.

Smartphone image of a downy mildew lesion with the pathogen sporulating on the underside of a cucumber leaf.

If you suspect downy mildew in cucumber or melon please text or email pictures to Sally Miller (330-466-5249; miller.769@osu.edu) of both sides of lesions, with the underside in the highest possible magnification. I can often confirm downy mildew from photos, but if not will ask you to send a sample to the OSU Vegetable Disease Diagnostic Lab for confirmation. Instructions for sample submission are here. Thanks to financial support from the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association’s Ohio Vegetable and Small Fruit Research and Development Program, there is no fee for this service for Ohio vegetable growers.