OSU Extension Bi-Weekly Fruit & Vegetable Report – October 17th, 2023

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

Biological Soil Health

When it comes to supporting healthy soils, the physical and chemical aspects of soil quality are often highlighted. However, the importance of biological activity and diversity, and how it influences soil structure and chemical properties (pH, electrical conductivity, etc.), is becoming increasingly appreciated in modern farming. As we discover more about the different microbe-microbe and microbe-plant interactions unfolding in the soil habitat, we can create better farming practices that optimize crop health and soil quality.

Three areas of soil health: physical, chemical, and biological. Image courtesy of University of Massachusetts. 

The source of and final destination of all soil life is soil organic matter (SOM). SOM consists of biological material in the soil, derived from plants, fungi, animals, and other organisms, that are in various stages of decomposition. Certain forms of SOM break down quickly and provide nutrients for crop use, others are more stable (i.e. inaccessible to microbial decay) and contribute to aggregate stability and tilth. A SOM content of 5% in mineral soils is considered high; in muck soils, SOM can be as high as 80%. Conservation ag practices like reduced tillage and cover cropping are used to support high levels of SOM for improved nutrient cycling, soil structure, and cation exchange capacity. 

The food webs that produce SOM are characterized by an astonishing diversity of soil life made up of bacteria, fungi, archaea, nematodes, protozoa, and other microfauna, as well as the larger organisms like springtails and earthworms higher up the food chain. These organisms not only drive nutrient cycling through consuming and contributing to SOM, but can influence crop health through more specialized relationships. Plant-growth promoting rhizobacteria that interact with plant roots can boost crop productivity by producing hormones, fixing atmospheric N, solubilizing P for increased availability, and inducing plant resistance to pathogens. The growing biologicals industry (biopesticides, biofertilizers, and biostimulants) is based on the premise that certain organisms benefit crop health through either direct interactions or interactions with other soil life. 

Keeping in mind how soil biodiversity and activity affect soil health through the lens of SOM and interactions between organisms can help us make decisions that support crops by maintaining a thriving, balanced soil habitat.

Examples of soil organisms at different scales – Microfauna: Azospirillium soil bacteria (top), Mesofauna: tardigrade (middle), Macrofauna: earthworm (bottom). Photos courtesy of Science Source (top), National Geographic (middle), Dan Brekke – Flickr (bottom).

Crop Updates

Vegetables

Cucurbits

Plectosporium leaf blight is being detected. Continue to watch for aphids, cucumber beetles and squash bugs. Significant damage was detected within the last week in harvested pumpkins due to large populations of cucumber beetles. Aphids can still be found in green foliage, and may be spotted via large accumulations of honey dew beneath healthy foliage.

Cucumber beetles feeding on harvested pumpkins. Photo by Frank Becker, OSU Extension.

Cole Crops

Alternaria leaf spot is being observed in brassicas. This pathogen is supported by warm, wet conditions. Cultural practices for reducing alternaria pressure include increasing crop spacing for improved airflow, crop rotation, tilling under crop residue after harvest and controlling brassica weeds (shepherd’s purse, wild mustard, wild radish, yellow rocket, etc.)  to decrease disease inoculum. Treating seed with hot water prior to planting may also help  to decrease prevalence of this seed-borne pathogen. Consult the Midwest Vegetable Guide for fungicide options in Brassicas.

Tomatoes/Peppers

Hoop house tomatoes are nearing the end. Powdery mildew, bacterial diseases, aphids, and other pests are all being observed under plastic. Late blight and early blight are prevalent in remaining field tomatoes. 

Anthracnose is continuing to be an issue on peppers and tomatoes. Infested fruits rapidly decline in quality and are unmarketable. Lesions are typically observed as sunken, round lesions on the fruit. At times you may also be able to see the salmon colored spores within the lesion on the fruit. 

Anthracnose on peppers. Photo by Frank Becker, OSU Extension. 

Fruit

Many orchards are nearing completion of harvest and pest monitoring traps are being taken down for the season. As tree fruits are harvested and leaves begin to fall, it may be a good opportunity to take a closer look at your trees and scout the trunk and branches for presence or evidence of insect pests such as scale and borers. Scouting for these pests now can help you make adjustments to your integrated pest management program.

October Small Fruit Updates

Dr. Gary Gao, Professor and Small Fruit Specialist, CFAES South Centers. The Ohio State University

Update on Long Cane Raspberry Project:

We are only getting a few straggling raspberries from our long cane raspberry trial at OSU South Centers in Piketon during the week of October 6, 2023. There were only enough for Gary to snack on. Pictured in the first photo is Kweli®. As you can tell from the picture, fruit color is still looking quite nice. Kweli® is an everbearing variety that is capable of producing two crops inside a high tunnel and out in the open field. Follow this link for more information on the variety: https://www.abbreeding.nl/varieties/kweli/?lang=en

We are still fine-tuning the method of growing long cane Kweli®. We just wrapped up our 2021-2023 Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) funded by Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). There is a lot more to learn about this highly innovative production method. Fortunately, we received another SCBG from ODA to do just that!

Kweli® fruits. Photo by Dr. Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

Gary was able to find several Tulameen raspberries from our long cane raspberry trial plot. This is definitely too late for the Tulameen harvest since it is a summer-bearing variety which does not produce fruits on primocanes. It was still neat to check them out. Earlier in the season, we harvested a lot of beautiful Tulameen fruits. Some of our grower cooperators were able to sell them for $9 per pint in a Columbus farmer’s market. Raspberry bushes in a long cane production system can produce 22,000 lbs. per acre! Tulameen is well suited for long cane raspberry production and is well known for its large fruit size and excellent taste! Follow this link – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/292928034_’Tulameen’_red_raspberry – for more information on Tulameen variety.

Tulameen fruits picked in October from our long cane raspberry trial. Photo by Dr. Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

Late Leaf Rust on Raspberries:

Gary noticed that some of the raspberry bushes in their raspberry trial had late leaf rust. Late leaf rust on raspberry is a fungal disease. Follow link – https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/plpath-fru-17#:~:text=Late%20leaf%20rust%20is%20caused,rust%20fungus%20is%20not%20systemic. -for more information on symptoms and management of this disease. Do not confuse this disease with orange rust of brambles. Fortunately, red raspberries are resistant to orange rust.

Late leaf rust on raspberries. Photo by Dr. Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

Fall is for Figs in Ohio!

Even though fall is typically for apples, mums, and pumpkins, it is also for figs – well hardy figs for that matter. Gary has been picking hardy figs from their fig planting at OSU South Centers in Piketon from early September to now. The figs will keep ripening until frost. A high tunnel will extend the harvest season.  Our figs were from another Ohio Specialty Crop Block Grant funded by ODA a few years ago. The varieties in our trial are Brown Turkey, Hardy Chicago, and Olympian. Brown Turkey and Chicago Hardy performed the best in our trial. Follow this link https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-1439 for more information.

OSU hardy fig trial. Photo by Dr. Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

Brown Turkey figs from the hardy fig trial at OSU South Centers in Piketon. Photo by Dr. Gary Gao, The Ohio State University.

Berry Production Workshops Presented by OSU Extension in Medina County

I will be going to Medina County on Friday, October 27 to give two talks, one on blueberries and one on raspberries. Ms. Ashley Kulhanek, the Ag. and Natural Resource Educator, is organizing the program. I will show gardeners and growers how to grow blueberries and raspberries. Please call OSU Extension in Medina County at 330-725-4911 for more information and to RSVP!

This is our last bi-weekly report for the 2023 season. Thank you for reading and please feel free to direct any feedback on the report series to Chris Galbraith at galbraith.108@osu.edu.

Upcoming Events

December 5 – 7, Grand Rapids, MI, Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, & Farm Market Expo 

January 15 – 16, Columbus, OH, 2024 Ohio Produce Network

February 15 – 17, Newark, OH, 2024 Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) Conference

 

OSU Extension Bi-Weekly Fruit & Vegetable Report – September 28th, 2023

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

View a recording of the OSU Extension Bi-Weekly Fruit & Vegetable Report updates below:

Strip Tillage

Strip tillage is a form of conservation tillage that attempts to combine the benefits of no-till and conventional tillage by working only the area where the crop will be planted. Leaving residue cover over the majority of the field protects the soil against erosion and helps to build organic matter, improve aggregate stability, and boost other indicators of soil health. Working the soil in the strip zone warms the soil faster and prepares a better seedbed to support plant growth. 

Components of a strip till unit – A) lead coulter for slicing through residue, B) row cleaners for parting residue, C) shank for fracturing and lifting soil, D) berm-building coulters to shape tilled soil into strip, & E) rolling basket for creating level seedbed. Photo courtesy of Orthsman/Unverferth Manufacturing. 

 

Strip-till in sweet corn stubble. Photo by Chris Galbraith, OSU Extension.

While strip till targets the benefits that come with integrating the two systems, there are downsides to consider as well. These mostly involve issues with cover crop and/or residue interference with growing the crop. Vigorous cover crops need to be terminated in a timely fashion and crop development can still be delayed in strip-till if the season begins cold and wet. Pests like slugs and voles can also build-up with the increased residue cover. The cost of the equipment can also be a substantial investment which creates a barrier to entry for many growers.

Many vegetables can be grown in strip tillage systems, including cucurbits, sweet corn, snap beans, potatoes, cole crops, carrots, and more. Recent studies at Michigan State University have found a slight yield increase from strip till in vegetable crops, but many of the issues mentioned can impact this (climate, residue management, pest pressure). It is important to consider the factors that go into making strip till a successful venture in order to make the most of the equipment and the practice.

For additional info on strip till in vegetables, check out this website on strip tillage from the Cornell Small Farms Program. 

Wildlife Control in Fruits & Vegetables

This season has been severe in terms of wildlife damage in specialty crops. Animals like deer, groundhogs, voles, raccoons, and birds have caused major losses on some farms. Dr. Marne Titchnell, wildlife program director for OSU Extension, recently gave an in-depth presentation at Farm Science Review on different wildlife mitigation strategies for growers. The information and slides can be found on her blog through the link below:

Managing and Preventing Damage from Wildlife in Fruits & Vegetables

OSU Extension Center for Cooperatives

Opportunities abound for farms when it comes to teaming up to save money and improve effectiveness through joint purchasing, collaborative marketing, and other similar practices. These types of partnerships between farm businesses is captured by the cooperative or “co-op” model where growers access resources and savings by acting together and making decisions as a group in certain scenarios. The Center for Cooperatives at OSU specializes in these sorts of opportunities and can offer guidance to growers who are interested in leveraging the benefits of organizing for collaborative business purposes.

Find more information at the center’s website. Read more about the topic of collaborative marketing in this recent article on the Center of Cooperatives blog.

Crop updates

Vegetables

Cole Crops

Heavy cross striped cabbageworm and imported cabbageworm feeding is still being observed in some brassica plantings. Aphids have made a late season push in brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli plantings. Cabbage aphids are typically a grayish color, and are often found amongst a waxy, white secretion which covers their body. Reproduction rates of these aphids are highest in temperatures between 50-68F. Scout for these pests on the underside of younger leaves, between leaf layers and on flower buds or seed stalks. It is recommended to treat cabbage when you see 1-2% of plants infested with aphids. There are a number of products that can be used to treat aphids in cabbage including Movento, Sivanto, Assail, Exirel and Beleaf. Prioritize products that have reduced toxicity (e.g., Beleaf) which will conserve natural enemy communities. Refer to the Midwest Vegetable production guide for other options. 

Cabbage aphid infestation. Photo by Frank Becker, OSU Extension. 

Cucurbits

Cucurbits are seeing upticks in a variety of beetles in flowers and fruit. These include corn rootworm species. Spotted cucumber beetles are active. Aphids are also beginning to be found with some more frequency in the fall vine crops. Squash bugs are also active within the crop. Most cucurbits do not have blooms in fields, so pyrethroid and carbamate applications may be applied (e.g., Sevin, Pounce, Capture). Refer to the Midwest Vegetable production guide for other options.

The pumpkin crop has been strong in Ohio this season. Many growers in northwest Ohio were able to manage downy mildew with fungicides. Plectosporium blight has been causing some problems for growers where fungicide spray coverage may not have been as thorough as desired. Most fungicide spray programs being used are adequate to limit impacts from plectosporium blight. Spray penetration into the canopy and coverage across the field is as important as selecting the right product.

Plectosporium blight on pumpkin, identified by light colored lesions on fruit, handles, and vines.  Photos by Frank Becker, OSU Extension.

Fruiting Vegetables 

Late blight has been confirmed in several tomato fields in and around Wayne County. Bacterial diseases have also begun to start, and with cool mornings and heavy dews, it will become increasingly more difficult to manage. 

Several high tunnel producers have reported dealing with broad mites/cyclamen mites in their high tunnel peppers. The mites feed on the fruit while it is still developing and their feeding damage causes the peppers to become russested and misshapen. The leaves may also appear distorted, almost as if they were drifted with herbicides. Keep in mind that these mites are in a different group than two-spotted spider mites. Therefore, it’s important to select control options that are appropriate and effective on this species. Sanitation and crop rotation are also important cultural control measures that need to be taken when dealing with mites in high tunnels.  

Onions 

Although the growing season is behind us for onions, curing is still ongoing, and some growers have reported some challenges with curing. Make sure that you are providing the proper conditions for curing onions. Less than ideal conditions will result in frustrations and losses of product. Ideal conditions are warm, dry, well ventilated areas. Ideal temperature range is between 75-90F. The other factor that contributes to losses while curing is not curing the best graded onions. Curing is not an attempt to bring quality back, only preserve it. Grading hard for only the best onions to be cured will help reduce the chance that rots begin to develop. Take note of any disease or insect issues that you have observed this year and use these notes to help you next year. Onions that may have had heavy thrips loads, or untreated disease infection during the season are not going to hold up as well as desired during the curing process. 

Green onions are seeing thrips populations slow down. Typically, thrips populations will decrease as we enter into Autumn and see these species move onto weedy hosts. 

Fruit

Sanitation is an important component of an integrated disease management program. In small fruit and tree fruit alike, there are diseases that can over winter on infested fruit, foliage and branches. As the season winds down, it is still important to scout for diseases that may be present, identify the disease and have a plan of action to manage the disease. Finding and removing mummy fruit, which are dried and shriveled fruit that are typically full of fungal structures, will help to significantly reduce disease inoculum from the production area. Too, mowing and mulching or raking away the leaves from around the trees and bushes reduces the amount of viable inoculum that may be overwintering in foliage. Much progress can be made towards disease management with efforts made in the fall. Taking these steps, and committing to them long term, helps to break disease cycles and reduce the overall pathogen load over time. 

Fruit rots are being observed in apples, including white rot and bitter rot. Bitter rot is common in apples during warm, wet conditions. For more information, take a look at this OSU article on bitter rot in apple. Marsoninna blotch is also found on apples. 

The pawpaw crop in Ohio this season has been later and smaller than past years. Pawpaw is a niche crop that is gaining popularity with Ohio consumers and can be used as an ingredient in specialty craft beers, ice cream, and other value-added items. For more information on pawpaw production, check out this factsheet from Cornell University. Learn more about the pawpaw industry in Ohio by visiting the Ohio PawPaw Growers Association website.

Pawpaw fruit cluster. Photo by Clemson University. 

 

Upcoming Events

September 30, Albany, OH OEFFA CSA Veggie Farm Tour

December 5 – 7, Grand Rapids, MI, Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, & Farm Market Expo 

January 15 – 16, Columbus, OH, 2024 Ohio Produce Network

February 15 – 17, Newark, OH, 2024 Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) Conference

 

OSU Extension Bi-Weekly Fruit & Vegetable Report – September 15th, 2023

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

View a recording of the OSU Extension Bi-Weekly Fruit & Vegetable Report updates below:

Farm Science Review 2023

The Farm Science Review (FSR) is one of the nation’s premier farm shows and one of OSU Extension’s largest, most far-reaching educational programs. The event will be held at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London, Ohio on September 19th – 21st. The OSU Extension Fruit & Vegetable Team will be hosting a tent all 3 days that will feature presentations from academic and industry speakers on a variety of topics, including nutrient management, entomophagy, integrated pest management, variety trial results, farm marketing, and more. The OSU Extension Fruits & Vegetables exhibit will be located near the gazebo near the Utzinger Garden (booth 385). We hope to see you there!

Check out the 2023 Farm Science Review Program for further information.

Speaker schedule for OSU Extension Fruits & Vegetables exhibit at FSR 2023. Note: There will also be a presentation by Dr. Marne Titchnell, Extension Wildlife Program Director for OSU,  on wildlife management in fruits & vegetables on Wednesday, September 20th from 1:30 – 2:00 PM.

Purple carrot-seed moth detection

The OSU Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic (PPDC) recently received an insect sample that was identified to be purple carrot-seed moth (Depressaria depressana), a known pest of crops in the Apiaceae family. This was the first report of purple carrot-seed moth found in Ohio, though it has been found in neighboring states. The insect feeds on the flower heads of crops like carrot, parsnip, dill, celery, parsley, and more, but it is yet unknown if it will be an economically important pest of these crops in Ohio. Check out the article from PPDC for more information.

Please report any suspected larvae/adults with pictures to entomology@osu.edu or ppdc@osu.edu.

Purple carrot seed moth larvae (top) and adult (bottom). Photo by Iowa State University Extension (top) and University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Entomology (bottom). 

Crop updates

Vegetables

Cucurbits

Downy mildew continues to wreak havoc in cucurbit plantings this time of year. As a refresher, here is a factsheet from Michigan State University on downy mildew mitigation. Powdery mildew pressure is reported to be increasing in southern Ohio. Striped cucumber beetles populations are declining in central/northeast Ohio and transitioning more towards higher numbers of corn rootworm beetles. Western corn rootworm, a look-alike of striped cucumber beetle, also feeds on cucurbits and can impact yield if heavy populations are present. Check out this article from Iowa State University for information on identifying different rootworm beetle pests. 

Virus symptoms are being observed in some melon plantings. There are various aphid-vectored potyviruses that affect cucurbits and they can be hard to differentiate from one another, though control practices are similar for all of them. The big 4 for cucurbit crops are cucumber mosaic virus, papaya ring spot virus, watermelon mosaic virus, and zucchini yellow mosaic virus. Like many crop diseases, management practices are preventative and include using resistant varieties or planting earlier to ensure harvest before viral symptoms appear towards the end of the season. Getting aphids under control may also minimize virus infection to some degree.

Cucumber mosaic virus – symptoms include yellowish-green “mosaic” mottling on foliage or fruit and crinkled leaves. Photo by Gerald Holmes, Strawberry Center, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org.

Papaya ringspot virus – symptoms include wrinkled leaves and discolored, bumpy fruit. Photo by Mary Ann Hansen, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Bugwood.org.

 

Watermelon mosaic virus – symptoms include wrinkled leaves and geometric patterns on fruit.  Photo by Dorina Pitorac, European Plant Protection Organization.

Zucchini yellow mosaic virus – symptoms include blistered, wrinkled leaves and fruit with discolored bumps. Photo by University of Massachusetts Extension.

Fruiting Vegetables

Late-season aphid feeding is being observed in some solanaceous crops. Honeydew is a sugary liquid secreted by aphids and other sap-sucking insects (whiteflies, spotted lanternfly, etc.). Honeydew accumulation on crop foliage or fruit can lead to growth of sooty mold, which is a term for various genera of fungi that colonize the sticky exudate. Sooty mold does not render vegetables inedible, however, and can be readily washed off. 

Honeydew from aphids (and other sap-suckers) on plant leaves is sticky to the touch and can be colonized by sooty mold. Photos by Kansas State University Entomology (top) and Joe Boggs, the Ohio State University Extension (bottom). 

Regular bouts of rainfall as we head into the fall are leading to increased incidence of Phytophthora infection in peppers (and cucurbits). While excess water is a problem for some vegetable growers in Ohio, some parts of western Ohio still remain abnormally dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Mites have been a problem in some areas, while thrips have taken a downturn. Keeping mites under control towards the end of the season can reduce the chance of heavy pressure next season by reducing the egg load/number of overwintering adults that will become next year’s mite infestations.

Fruit

Tree fruits

Early varieties of apples are being harvested across the state. Brown marmorated stinkbug pressure is increasing. Bitter rot is starting to be observed in some orchards. Marssonina leaf blotch is also being seen in some organic orchards, where management can be difficult without the use of fungicides. Removal/destruction of leaves on the orchard floor in the fall can reduce overwintering sites for the pathogen. Black knot is being seen on some ornamental plum trees, so commercial plum and cherry growers should keep an eye out for black knot galls on their trees and promptly remove them if they see them.

Gall of black knot (Apiosporina morbosa), a fungal pathogen of plum, cherry, and other types of fruit trees. Photo by Joseph O Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org.

Small Fruits

Preparing Brambles for Winter – Sanitation Practices for Disease Prevention
Melanie Ivey, State Fruit Pathologist and Fresh Produce Safety Specialist, The Ohio State University

Disease management of perennial fruit crops is a year-round endeavor. Many fungal pathogens survive the winter months in the soil or plant debris, infected canes or buds, or dead canes. As part of an integrated disease management program fall sanitation practices to reduce inoculum in the planting should be done.  Best sanitation practices include removing floricanes after harvest, removing diseased and dead canes, removing dead or systemically infected plants, and raking or chopping fallen leaves. Pruning debris should be destroyed by burning or placing in the trash or discarding it away from the planting. Diseased plant material should not be composted.  Pruning cuts should be sharp and clean to avoid unnecessary mechanical wounds.

The fall is also a good time to scout for and remove wild bramble populations that are near the production field. In addition to fall sanitation practices, some diseases require a dormant or delayed dormant fungicide application. For dormant or delayed dormant fungicide recommendations consult the Midwest Fruit Pest Management Guide (OSU Extension Bulletin 506).

The table below summarizes where the fungi for several common diseases of brambles in Ohio overwinter, the recommended fall sanitation practices for each disease, and whether a dormant or delayed dormant fungicide application is recommended.

Upcoming Events: 

September 19 – 21, Farm Science Review

September 27, Wooster, OH, Midwest Mechanical Weed Control Field Day

September 30, Albany, OH OEFFA CSA Veggie Farm Tour

December 5th – 7th, Grand Rapids, MI, Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, & Farm Market Expo 

January 15 – 16, Columbus, OH, 2024 Ohio Produce Network

February 15 – 17, Newark, OH, 2024 Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) Conference

Late Appearance of Phytophthora Blight in Peppers and Cucurbits Wreaking Havoc

Bell pepper fruits with Phytophthora blight, received in late August 2023 by the OSU Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic. Photo by Francesca Rotondo.

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

After a hot dry early summer in many parts of Ohio this year, growers may have thought that they escaped the scourge of Phytophthora blight, and for a while this appeared to be true. However, several intensive rainfall events during the past several weeks resulted in flooded soil conditions perfect for spread of Phytophthora blight. Unfortunately, this late in the season, growers have invested a lot of money in these crops and may see significant reductions in yield.

The cause of Phytophthora blight is Phytophthora capsici,  a soilborne oomycete pathogen that thrives in rainy weather. It produces sporangia that release motile spores (zoospores) that are attracted to plants, then form a structure that allows them to infect, and aggressively attack any type of plant tissue. Sporangia and zoospores can be splashed onto leaves, stems and fruits during rain events and overhead irrigation. Phytophthora blight must be  managed preventatively.  This includes the use of resistant varieties (partially resistant varieties are available for pepper but not for cucurbits), cultural practices and fungicides.

We have received several reports of fruit infections of peppers and pumpkins this week. Once fruits have become infected with Phytophthora, nothing can be done to rescue them. Additionally, some lesions on pepper fruits may not be obvious initially but develop during shipping, putting healthy fruits at risk of infection. For pumpkins, if Phytophthora blight was detected in a field at any time during the 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.

Pepper and cucurbit fruits 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.

[Updated from previous posts. Information on fungicides to manage Phytophthora blight in peppers and pumpkins is available in previous posts.]

We thank the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association’s Ohio Vegetable and Small Fruit Research and Development Program for financial support of the OSU PPDC.

More First Reports – Downy Mildews of Basil and Cucumber in Ohio

Basil plants with severe downy mildew symptoms in a big box store garden center in Wooster, OH, 2021. Photo by F. Rotondo.

We received a report on August 8 from an Ohio Master Gardener of sweet basil downy mildew in a garden near the  OSU main campus in Columbus, Franklin County. We often see this disease in Ohio for the first time in late July or early August, although our reporting, aside from sentinel plots in northwest and central Ohio, depends on the growing and gardening communities giving us a heads up when observed. So, downy mildew may have been present in Ohio earlier than this first report. The pathogen, Peronospora belbahrii, does not overwinter in Ohio and arrives most years on air currents from the south. The pathogen is also seedborne and has been introduced earlier on basil seedlings and transplants in nurseries and retail stores as we observed in 2017 and 2021. For future plantings, there are sweet basil varieties now available with good resistance to downy mildew. These include Prospera Compact DMR, Prospera DMR, Prospera Red DMR, Rutgers Devotion DMR, Rutgers Obsession DMR, Rutgers Passion DMR, and Rutgers Thunderstruck DMR, available from a number of seed companies as organic or non-organic seeds. Resistance in the varieties may break down under severe disease pressure from favorable weather conditions (cool, overcast, high humidity, rainy) and high inoculum levels, so crop protectants may also need to be applied. A detailed listing of fungicides and biologicals registered for downy mildew management was published recently by Dr. Andy Wyenandt, Rutgers University.

Downy mildew was also reported on cucumbers in Huron County, Ohio this week.

Downy Mildew Reported on Pumpkins in Fulton County, OH

Partial map of 2023 cucurbit downy mildew reports as of August 7, 2023. Counties in red indicate new reports (<7 days), while counties in green have older reports. cdm.ipmpipe.org.

Bill Holdsworth of Rupp Seeds confirmed a severe outbreak of downy mildew on pumpkins in his field trials in Fulton County, Ohio today. Downy mildew was extensive in this field, indicating that it had begun some time ago, perhaps a week or two. Last year, Bill reported pumpkin downy mildew in the same county on August 10. It was likely caused by Clade 1 of the downy mildew pathogen Pseudoperonospora cubensis, which has a broad host range among cucurbits, preferring pumpkins, squash and watermelons, but also infecting cucumbers and melons. Clade 2 isolates infect and cause damage to cucumbers and melons, and are seen in northern Ohio first. As in 2022, the Fulton County outbreak on pumpkins was unusual for the Great Lakes region. There are no reports of downy mildew on cucurbits other than cucumber in the Midwest, Northeast or Canada at this time – although not being reported doesn’t mean it is not there. We have not seen downy mildew on pumpkins, squash, melons or watermelons in sentinel plots in Sandusky and Franklin Counties, and Jim Jasinski, OSU Extension, has not found downy mildew in scouted pumpkin fields on OSU’s Western Agricultural Research Station in South Charleston.

Downy mildew can kill cucurbit foliage, including that of pumpkins, which will stop the fruit from maturing unless it is controlled preventatively. Pumpkin, squash, and watermelon growers should be applying at least a protectant fungicide such as chlorothalanil (Bravo, Eqqus, etc.) and amp up scouting efforts. Growers in Fulton and surrounding counties should apply downy mildew-targeted fungicides (Orondis Opti, Ranman, Omega, Previcur Flex, and Elumin) posted here and here in a spray program alternating fungicides with different modes of action/FRAC group.  Follow all label instructions.

Bacterial spot on pumpkin – can be mistaken for downy mildew.

Downy mildew symptoms on a pumpkin leaf (top)

If you suspect cucurbit downy mildew you can 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. It is harder to confirm downy mildew in pumpkins and squash from photos because lesions are less distinctive and sporulation is less than in cucumbers.  So you may need to send a sample to the OSU C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic (CWEPPDC) in Wooster for confirmation. Instructions for sample submission are here. Digital images may also be sent to the CWEPPDÇ.

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.

Powdery Mildew Management in Cucurbits

Powdery mildew colonies on the underside of a pumpkin leaf. Fungicide applications should start when these colonies are first observed during scouting. It is important to check both surfaces of the leaves. Photo by Josh Amrhein.

[Updated from 2022 post] Powdery mildew usually appears on pumpkins and other cucurbits in Ohio beginning in early July, but this year it appears to have come in a little later. The pathogen, Psudoperonospora cubensis, does not overwinter in Ohio; infections result from spores blown into the area on the wind.  Powdery mildew is favored by moderate to high temperatures and high humidity. However, unlike most other fungal plant pathogens, it is inhibited by free moisture on the leaf surface. Scouts observed a small number of powdery mildew colonies about 2 weeks ago on squash in our downy mildew sentinel plot at OSU’s North Central Agricultural Research Station in Fremont.

Signs of infection are small circular powdery growths on either side of the leaf. These spots enlarge and can eventually cover most of the leaf surface and kill the leaves. Stems and leaf petioles are also susceptible, but the disease is not observed on fruit. In pumpkins, powdery mildew may also attack the “handles”, which can be further damaged by secondary pathogens.

Powdery mildew is managed using disease-resistant varieties and fungicides. Pumpkin and squash varieties vary in resistance to powdery mildew; in general, the more susceptible the variety, the more fungicide needed. The choice of fungicide is important because insensitivity to overused fungicides is common. It is critical that a fungicide resistance management program is followed. Alternate fungicides in different FRAC (Fungicide Resistance Action Committee) groups, indicating different modes of action against the fungus. Fungicide applications should begin when the disease first appears and incidence is low (rule of thumb: at least one leaf of 50 scouted). Fungicides that are labeled for use against cucurbit powdery mildew can be found in the searchable Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers.

OSU evaluations of efficacy of powdery mildew fungicides in Ohio in 2021 indicated that Aprovia Top, Luna Experience, Inspire Super, Rally, Miravis Prime, Luna Sensation, Microthiol Disperss, Vivando and Procure provided very good control of powdery mildew on pumpkins (see table in color below).  Velum Prime, Cevya, Prolivo and Gatten provided good control of powdery mildew on upper leaf surfaces but poor control on the lower surfaces.

Quintec provided good control in 2021 but in other years and other states has failed due to resistance. Fontelis, Bravo Weather Stik, Merivon Xemium, Pristine, and Torino have been shown to provide poor or variable control in Ohio or other states and are not recommended.

Jim Jasinski, OSU Extension, has been running field trials in central Ohio for many years to assess fungicide efficacy against powdery mildew on pumpkins. Some effective fungicide combinations, based on 2021 and 2022 data, are shown in the second table. Some of these fungicides were not effective in our bioassays (table in color), but when paired a broad spectrum protectant like Manzate may prove more effective than when applied alone. Most experts suggest adding a broad spectrum protectant fungicide like Manzate to more powdery mildew-targeted fungicides to reduce the risk of fungicide development, boost fungicide efficacy and protect the crop from other diseases.

Former Buckeye Dr. Andy Wyenandt (Rutgers Univ.) has suggested that spray programs for cucurbit powdery mildew should contain multiple fungicides with different modes of action/FRAC numbers. He suggest a schedule of A-B-C-D-E-A-B-C-D-E where A, B, C, D, and E represent fungicides from different FRAC groups applied at weekly intervals. A protectant fungicide like Manzate should be tank mixed with the powdery mildew-targeted fungicide. This program is primarily to reduce the risk of resistance to any single fungicide, but it will also provide some cover if the pathogen has come in already resistant to one of the fungicides in the program.

Always check the label for full list of allowed crops and use recommendations and restrictions.

Effective Fungicide Treatments to Control PM in Pumpkin in Ohio in 2021 and 2022.

Treatment Crop
Cevya alt. Quintec; all with Manzate Pro-Stick (FRAC 3,13) Pumpkin
Gatten alt. Quintec; all with Manzate Pro-Stick (FRAC U13, 13) Pumpkin
Procure + Vacciplant alt. Vivando; all with Manzate Pro-Stick (FRAC 3, 50) Pumpkin
Cevya alt. Merivon; all with Manzate Pro-Stick (FRAC 3, 11,7) Pumpkin
Gatten alt. Merivon; all with Manzate Pro-Stick (FRAC U13, 11,7) Pumpkin
Procure alt. Quintec; all with Manzate Pro-Stick (FRAC 3,13) Pumpkin
Procure alt. Vivando; all with Manzate Pro-Stick (FRAC 3, 50) Pumpkin
Inspire Super* (FRAC 3,9) Pumpkin
Aprovia Top* (FRAC 7,3) Pumpkin

*sequential applications for research only, must be rotated per label for grower use.

 

Cucumber Downy Mildew Spreading

Map of 2023 cucurbit downy mildew reports. Red = reported <1 week ago; Green = reported > 1 week ago. cdm.ipmpipe.org

Downy mildew is now confirmed in cucumbers in five Ohio counties: Sandusky, Fulton, Medina, Wayne and Knox. The latest report, from Sandusky County, was from our sentinel plot on OSU’s North Central Agricultural Research Station (NCARS) in Fremont. Our interns Raven and Audrey scouted the week before and saw no symptoms or signs of downy mildew. One week later, downy mildew symptoms and signs were present on leaves of every cucumber plant in the sentinel plot (see photos).  This illustrates the explosive potential of this disease on a highly susceptible host like cucumbers and the necessity

Downy mildew on cucumbers in the OSU Sentinel plots at NCARS, Fremont, OH, July 24, 2023. Photo by R. Schaffter.

Underside of cucumber leaf showing downy mildew lesions and signs of the pathogen, Pseudoperonospora cubensis. NCARS, July 24, 2023. Photo by Raven Schafter.

of managing it preventatively.  This is mainly done through applications of appropriate bound spectrum fungicides such as chlorothalanil and mancozeb plus specific fungicides (e.g. Orondis Opti, Elumin, Ranman) targeted against the downy mildew pathogen and other oomycete pathogens. See previous recent posts on management tactics for cucurbit downy mildew.

Cucumber Downy Mildew Confirmed in Three Ohio Counties

Severe cucumber downy mildew in Medina County, OH, July 24, 2023. Photo by Frank Becker.

Map of cucurbit downy mildew outbreaks. First reports for this year in Ohio: Medina, Wayne and Knox counties. cdm.ipmpipe.org.

Cucumber downy mildew was confirmed yesterday in three Ohio counties (Wayne, Medina and Knox), following a report last week from Michigan and several weeks ago from Ontario. While these reports are later in July than average for Ohio, it is likely that infections occurred at least a week earlier. Thanks to OSU’s Plant Pest and Disease Clinic Director Dr. Francesca Rotondo and Wayne County Extension Educator Frank Becker for these finds. Knox County is in central Ohio, so I’ll amend my July 19 post to include cucumber and melon growers statewide, who should add fungicides very effective against downy mildew to their spray program now if they have not already done so. Waiting until symptoms appear may be too late to avoid yield losses; effective fungicides should be applied preventatively. The best ones, according to research in Ohio, Michigan  and other Great Lakes states and provinces are Orondis Opti (FRAC 49+M05), Ranman (FRAC 21), Omega (FRAC 29), Previcur Flex (FRAC 28), and Elumin (FRAC 22). These should be tank mixed with chlorothalanil (Bravo, Equus, etc.) or mancozeb (Dithane, Manzate, etc.). Orondis Opti is a premix already containing chlorothalanil, but at a reduced rate.  Fungicides have restrictions on how much product can be applied and how often, so follow the label. The more effective fungicides should be rotated to avoid resistance development in the pathogen.  More information can be found here and here.

See my June 24, 2023 post for pictures of symptoms and instructions for submitting live or digital samples to OSU for diagnosis. Diagnosis is free for Ohio vegetable growers thanks to a grant from the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association’s Ohio Vegetable and Small Fruit Research and Development Program.

Cucumber Downy Mildew Confirmed in Michigan

Downy mildew of cucumber.

Downy mildew was confirmed today in Saginaw County, MI. Dr. Mary Hausbeck’s team at Michigan State University also detected spores of the downy mildew pathogen, Pseudoperonospora cubensis, in air samples in several MI counties.  Although we haven’t seen or heard of downy mildew on cucumbers yet this year in Ohio, it is likely already here or soon will be. Cucumber and melon growers in northern Ohio should start adding fungicides very effective against downy mildew to their spray programs now. These are Orondis Opti, Ranman, Omega, Previcur Flex, and Elumin. More information on these fungicides can be found here.