Storage of Fall Fruit and Vegetable Crops After Harvest

As the growing season comes to a close and crops are harvested this fall, many growers may look at storing some crops to sell throughout the winter and early spring. Some commonly stored vegetables include potatoes, onions, and garlic. Most of the stored fruit crops, in terms of long-term storage, is focused on apples and pears. Proper care and storage of these products can provide additional income throughout the winter months when other crops are unable to be locally grown and sold. These storage practices may be useful for those just simply looking to store crops for home use as well.

Delving into the practice of storing vegetable crops, to start out, you want to make sure that you are only attempting to store what would be considered “firsts” or products of the highest quality grade. Products that have blemishes or defects are not suitable for long term storage. Attempting to work some of the “seconds” into your stored products can be risky and may result in a higher loss of product during the storage process. Some other pointers before putting away crops over winter include finding varieties that are better suited for winter storage, planting the crops so that at the end of the season you are harvesting the crops in their prime (which is when they will store best), and having an area where you can provide suitable conditions for storage of the desired crops. Another important step in the process is called curing. Curing is a process that allows the skin to become more durable which helps to extend shelf life. Potatoes cured at 60-70 degrees F for 4-5 days can be kept for 4-5 months. Onions need cured for approximately 2 weeks, where they need to be spread out and dried until the outer skin becomes papery and dry. Garlic is cured in a very similar manner as onions. Winter Squash and sweet potatoes that are cured for 10-14 days at 75-80 degrees F can be stored for several months.

Appropriate storage conditions are another major factor of being able to keep vegetables long term. Potatoes are best kept at between 40-50 degrees F with higher humidity and no light. Large temperature fluctuations or too much light can induce sprouting. Sweet potatoes also store best in higher humidity, and with temperatures between 45 and 60. Pumpkins and squash store better in low humidity environments. Garlic is stored best at temperatures near 35-40 degrees F and with low humidity and no light. Onions storage temperatures are recommended at around 35 degrees F with moderate humidity. These areas also need to be well ventilated to prevent excess moisture from building up and to provide the area with “clean”, fresh air. Storage areas should not only be set up to allow for good airflow, but they should also be set up in a way to allow you to inspect the crops at various times throughout the winter. It is important to watch the stored crops closely and remove any decaying products as soon as possible. The longer a decaying fruit or vegetable is allowed to be there, the higher the risk of others being affected.

Apple and pear storage is not too different from vegetable storage. They too need to be harvested at the correct time to prevent them from becoming over ripe in storage. Too, they need to be in a cool and well-ventilated space with no light. The ventilation also prevents the buildup of ethylene, which helps to slow down the ripening process. Ethylene increases the speed at which the fruit ripens.  It is important to note that these storage spaces should not drop below freezing. Freezing temperatures followed by above freezing temperatures will damage fruit and vegetables and make long term storage nearly impossible. Apples and pears also need checked to make sure that there is no fruit going bad. The saying goes “one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel” and that is true for both fruits and vegetables. When fruits and vegetables are harvested at the correct time and given good storage conditions, they can be enjoyed many months after the growing season has wrapped up.

Soil Management in Specialty Crops

Specialty crops, such as fruits and vegetables, require special considerations in terms of soil management and fertility. As the growing season winds down and more crops are harvested, you may feel as though you have nothing left to do except wait to start it all over again in the spring. Soil that is continuously cropped with fruit and vegetable crops can become depleted of key nutrients rather quickly and, now is the best time to work on addressing issues that you may have with your soil. Additionally, addressing issues with your soil may even resolve other issues such as disease and weed pressure.

An important aspect of determining whether you have areas that need addressed or even how to address them is to take soil samples. Soil sampling is the most direct way to understand what is going on in your soil. Most soil test will give you the results for the macro nutrients phosphorus and potash, which are used in the highest amounts by the plants. They will also usually include the secondary nutrients calcium and magnesium, that are used to a lesser degree. Soil test results may also show you your soil pH, organic matter percentage and the cation exchange capacity. All of these factors are important in making a decision on your soil fertility and soil management strategies.

Before diving into any of the topics surrounding soil management and soil fertility after a growing season, it is first important to understand the basics of nutrient uptake by the plant. The roots are the main pathway in which nutrients are transported into the plant. In order for this to occur, the nutrients must be in a form in which they are mobile. The nutrients are mobile in the soil when they are broken down or dissolved into the soil solution, at which point, the roots are able to take them in and move them throughout the plant.

The process of a nutrient breaking down or being dissolved in the soil solution takes time. That is one of the major reasons to address soil fertility concerns in the fall. Being able to apply certain nutrients, such as potassium, in the fall and allowing them all winter to break down and become available to the plant is optimal. Certain nutrients like nitrogen, you can apply right before planting, as nitrogen is available to the plant for uptake rather quickly after application. Regardless of whether you are addressing soil fertility issues in the fall or the spring, it is important that you do so with careful consideration for nutrient loss. Nitrogen is a very mobile nutrient and can be lost through several pathways fairly easily. It is also of your best interest to make soil amendments based on a recent soil test report. How else would you know what to apply or how much? Knowing what your soils already have and how to make them better will not only prevent over application that could lead to nutrient runoff, it will also save you money. Over buying and over applying nutrients is doing nothing but pouring money down the drain.

Another important factor of your soil management decisions should be based on your soil pH. Each crop type will have a more specific optimal pH, however, in general a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 is recommended for most crops. Being able to maintain an appropriate pH level will also help to influence plant growth due to optimal nutrient uptake. At a pH of approximately 6.2-7.3, nutrient availability is at its highest. With a pH any lower or higher than this range, nutrient availability sharply declines. So even if you were applying the correct amount of nutrients or over applying because the plants weren’t responding to the fertilization, having a pH outside of the optimal range is likely preventing the nutrients from becoming available for plant uptake.

Soil fertility is one of the biggest factors that influence crop yield. Foliar feeding has its place with specialty crops; however, it should not be relied on to address issues with crops that are due to poor soil nutrient management. Excessive foliar feeding, especially with nutrients that are not mobile in the plant, is costing you money that you are not getting a return on. If you are having issues year after year that you are associating with soil fertility issues, address the issues in the soil. Remember that the roots are specifically there to take up water and nutrients. Not only will improved soil fertility help with crop yields, it will also improve overall plant health. A healthy plant is a strong plant, and a strong plant stands up better to disease and insect pressure.

Take the time this fall to take soil samples. Work with your local co-op or soil lab and address the nutrient concerns in your soil. Your soil is worth your time and investment. You should put in the effort to take care of the soil and consider even improving it and leaving it in a better condition for future generations. I heard it said once that despite all of our accomplishments, we owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains. Take care of your soil and it will take care of you.

Field Management Considerations Post-Harvest

As crops are being harvested, and fields are being prepped for the winter, there are several field management decisions that need to be considered. It is important to note that there is no singular correct management plan. Different approaches to field management will fit some farms better than others, it all depends on the goals you have set for your farm based on your management strategies.

Dealing with residue in the fall will help to avoid issues in the spring. Some issues that are encountered in spring while planting include attaining good seed-soil contact or disease issues due to a field not drying out. Another issue that can arise from improperly managed residue is large populations of slugs that can decimate young seedlings. Sanitation of the field and intensive management of residue can help to break up insect pest life cycles as well as disease cycles.

Residue management is a major aspect of post-harvest field treatment. The residue that we are concerned with is the chaff and stalks that are left after grain harvest. There are two ways to look at this residue. On one hand, the residue can act as a mulch that lessens the impact of rain falling on the soil, lessen the amount of erosion, help to retain soil moisture, and add organic matter and nutrients back into the soil. On the other hand, residue can help to over winter problematic insects, act as inoculum for diseases and slow soils from warming up and drying out in the spring.

The decision on how to manage residue comes out of your tillage and field management plans. In a no till or conservation tillage system, residue is considered more of a benefit to the field and left mostly as is. In a more intensive tillage system, residue is incorporated and broken up to influence a more rapid breakdown. There are benefits, as well as drawbacks, to both of these systems.

In an approach focused on conserving the residue, as previously stated, there are several benefits when looking at soil health and soil management. Conversely, the risk for insects to over winter and for diseases to carry over is also greatly increased. If there are fields on your farm with histories of diseases or insect problems, consider looking at how you have been managing the crop residue. If you would like to maintain your current conservation tillage systems, but reduce the risk of disease and insect infestations, using different tillage tools, such as vertical tillage, may be of interest to you. Using a vertical tillage tool serves several purposes. One is that it helps to chop up and spread out the crop residue. These tillage implements also often kick the soil up in a way that covers up a considerable percentage of the residue. This is important because covering the residue with soil will help to increase the rate at which decomposition occurs.

This approach, aimed more towards conservation tillage, may be of interest to those who have been involved with more intensive tillage. Intensive tillage and turning of the soil certainly results in a faster breakdown of crop residue. However, this tillage system leaves more soil exposed and can result in more wind and water erosion. Finding a system that can appropriately manage the crop residue while also maintaining some form of soil structure and improving soil health, will not only help the crops from year to year, but will also increase the sustainability and productivity of your soil.

Integrated Pest Management Considerations for Stored Grain Crops

Integrated pest management of a crop should not stop after it has left the field. The last thing that you want to have happen is for a crop, that you worked hard all summer to get to harvest, to be lost due to poor management while it is being stored in the bin. It is important to realize that storage of grains will not improve the quality of the grain. The quality of the grain will be at its best immediately after harvest. The goal of bin storage is to protect and maintain that quality.

Before putting grain in the bin, there are several steps that you should take to prepare the bin for new grain. One of the most important steps to take is to thoroughly clean the bin to remove any old, previously stored material from all components of the grain bin system. This includes the augers, fans, and the bins themselves. If you can tell what grain was last stored in the bin, it still is not clean enough.

While cleaning the bin, take time to make sure that the bin is sealed correctly and that the seals are not failing. A common area for a seal failure to cause damage is at the base of the bin where the bin rests on its cement base. This area is just one spot where moisture can enter the bin and cause significant spoilage. Also make sure to check the seals around doors and hatches. Screens should also be in place on roof vents to prevent larger animals from entering the bins. Aside from keeping a grain bin dry, keeping it sealed appropriately will also prevent the entry of insects, birds, and rodents.

Grain bin sanitation should also extend to the areas around the outside of the bin. At a minimum, at least 10-15 feet around the outside of the bin should be kept clean. This includes keeping it mowed and cleaning up spilled grain. Leaving favorable habitat and a food source intact that close to the bin is essentially creating a refuge for many of these pests. Not doing anything to prevent this is asking for trouble. Keeping this area cleaned up and maintained will prevent pest populations from building up within such a close proximity to your bin.

Some common insect pests that are found in grain bins include: flat grain beetles, saw-toothed grain beetles, red flour beetles, and Indian meal moths, just to name a few. The challenge with these insects is that they, as well as their eggs and larva can be harbored in old debris and grain remnants, hence why bin sanitation is so important. There are several preventative insecticides that can be added to the grain while putting it in the bin, as well as preventative products that can be added as a top dress after the bin is full. Fumigation, although not used as frequently as it once was, is also an option for insect management. As with any pesticide, the label is the law. Make sure to read and follow the label and use as directed.

Management of the bin while there is grain being stored is also important when considering pest management and grain quality control. Aeration will help to keep grain dry as well as disturb insects that may have made their way into the bin. Temperature monitoring is another way to manage grain quality, both from moisture and insect management perspectives. Keeping the grain bin at the appropriate temperature will prevent moisture from being drawn into the bin. It can also slow down or altogether prevent insect life cycles from repeating. Insects typically require certain amounts of heat units to progress from one life stage to the next, and if that can be slowed down or prevented, this lessens the need for chemical treatments.

It is important to realize that relying only on chemical options for insect management can be ineffective and costly. Without implementation of other integrated pest management strategies, chemical treatments are going to hurt your bottom line. It is essential to work strongly on the prevention aspects of grain bin pest management, rather than focus all your time, money, and effort on the reactive treatments. An ounce of prevention is worth its weight in gold by the time you are ready to move the grain out of the bin. Employing integrated pest management strategies into your grain storage systems can result in cost savings, from less reliance on chemical treatment, and better overall product quality.

Wayne County IPM Notes from September 20-26

Wayne County IPM Notes

(From the Week of September 20 – September 26)

Frank Becker, OSU Extension Wayne County

Vegetable Pests

Aphids feeding on pumpkin leaves. F. Becker photo.

Cucurbit growers need to check their crops for infestations of aphids. Large populations of aphids can be found feeding on the underside of leaves. While the feeding on the foliage is not of major concern at this point in the growing season, the exudate from the aphids is. Aphids secrete a sticky substance known as honeydew and when large amounts of the honeydew are being formed, it can drip down onto the pumpkins and result in black sooty mold growing on the fruit.

Continue to keep watch over late season cole crops as there are still a lot of imported cabbageworm adult butterflies in and around crops such as broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Additionally, other fall insect pests such as the cabbage looper and aphids can become problematic. Aphids can have rampant infestations during cooler and dry weather.  Therefore, routine scouting, especially at this time of year, is important to effective pest detection and management.

Imported cabbageworm larva feeding on cole crop leaves. F. Becker photo.

Fruit and Vegetable Diseases

Residue management of fruit and vegetable crops is an important component of integrated disease management. Typically, at the end of the season, plants are commonly being affected by a range of diseases. As management of these diseases dwindles towards the end of the season, there is an increased level of inoculum that may be able to over winter. Many of the pathogens affecting the plants now are able to over winter and result in disease challenges again next year. It is important to know what diseases you have in your fields. This knowledge can help you make crop management decisions such as how long to rotate out of a certain crop. Additionally, the residue that is left at the end of the season should either be composted or tilled into the soil as soon as possible. Composting or incorporating the crop residue allows for the plant to be broken down by soil microorganisms and prevents the spread of the pathogen to other plants that may be alternative hosts that could overwinter the pathogen. Doing this in association with crop rotation will help give time for the pathogens to die off. Typical crop rotations allow for 3-

A field that has been cleared of plant debris, run through with a disc and then planted with cover crops. F. Becker photo.

4 years between planting a crop in the same family.

Fruit Pests

Stink bugs are still active and can be found along wood-lines and field edges. Although, numbers do seem to be dropping as the summer comes to an end. I am still finding the occasional fruit that has been damaged by a stink bug. The damage is typically occurring in trees along the edges of orchard blocks, especially near wooded areas.

Wayne County IPM Notes from September 13 – September 19

Wayne County IPM Notes

(From the Week of September 13 – September 19)

Frank Becker, OSU Extension Wayne County

Vegetable Pests

Large masses of cucumber beetles on pumpkin plants late in the season. F. Becker photo.

Cucumber beetles continue to have high populations in pumpkin fields. The spotted cucumber beetle, which is also the southern corn rootworm adult, are migrating in masses out of corn fields as corn silks dry down and finding their way into pumpkin fields. So long as the beetles are not chewing on the skin of the pumpkin, they are not anything to be concerned about, however, once they start damaging the skin of the fall vine crops, an insecticide application may be warranted.

Scouting your latest plantings of cole crops is recommended to make sure that cabbageworms do not get out of hand. It can be easy to let your guard down as the season winds down, but if you want to have a marketable crop, you need to keep an eye out for the imported cabbageworms doing damage.

Vegetable Diseases

Peppers, at this point in the season should be winding down, however, disease pressure can force a premature end

Anthracnose lesions on a bell pepper. F. Becker photo.

to the season quite rapidly. One disease that can cause a rapid decline in peppers is anthracnose. At this point in the season, it is not worth the investment in any fungicide applications. For future planning, practice a three-year crop rotation with crops that are not in the Solanaceae family and consider doing seed disinfestation before planting. This disease can be managed with fungicides; however, it is important to address the issue of the origin of the diseases, rather than trying to fix the issue by applying a rescue fungicide every year.

At this point in the season, it is of your best interest to consider the cost of any fungicide application in respect to how much more you expect to get out of a crop. With pumpkins, for example, as the plants are beginning to die off at this point in the season, it is not likely that any fungicide application will be effective or result in any increase of yield or crop value. For a crop like cole crops that are just a few weeks in the ground, then you may have opportunity to apply fungicides, should the need arise. As always, follow the label and pay close attention to the pre-harvest interval when applying a fungicide.

Fruit Pests

Stink bugs are still active and can be found along wood-lines and field edges. I am still finding the occasional fruit that has been damaged by a stink bug. The damage is typically occurring in trees along the edges of orchard blocks, especially near wooded areas.

Fruit Diseases

Apples are now ripening and being harvested in orchards around Wayne County. F. Becker photo.

As fruit continues to ripen and be harvested, we continue to move forward through the growing season without many disease issues in our area. If you are doing any final treatments for fruit diseases, pay close attention to the PHI on the product label. The pre-harvest interval determines how long after you applied that product that you may harvest the crop. This is especially important to pay attention to as many varieties of orchard crops as well as grapes are maturing and nearing harvest.

Wayne County IPM Notes from September 6 – 12

Wayne County IPM Notes

(From the Week of September 6 – September 12)

Frank Becker, OSU Extension Wayne County

Vegetable Pests

After seeing the adult butterflies flying amongst cabbage, kale, and broccoli plantings for the past week or so, I am now finding imported cabbageworms feeding on these plants. Scouting your latest plantings of cole crops is recommended to make sure that these worms do not get out of hand. It can be easy to let your guard down as the season winds down, but if you want to have a marketable crop, you need to keep an eye out for the imported cabbageworms doing damage.

Corn earworm numbers continue to increase in our traps in Wayne County, as well as across the state. Since late planted sweet corn has green silks and is an attractive crop for the moths to lay their eggs on, we typically see an increase in moths this time of year in, or near, sweet corn plantings. This time of year, field corn may be responsible for the large increase in moths, as the lack of green silks leads them to find alternative sites to lay their eggs.

Vegetable Diseases

            At this point in the season, it is of your best interest to consider the cost of any fungicide application in respect to how much more you expect to get out of a crop. With pumpkins, for example, as the plants are beginning to die off at this point in the season, it is not likely that any fungicide application will be effective or result in any increase of yield or crop value. For a crop like cole crops that are just a few weeks in the ground, then you may have opportunity to apply fungicides, should the need arise. As always, follow the label and pay close attention to the pre-harvest interval when applying a fungicide.

Fruit Pests

All of the traps out for codling moth and oriental fruit moth continue to decline, and in some cases are dropping to no moths being found in the traps.

Stink bugs are still active and can be found along wood-lines and field edges. I am still finding the occasional fruit that has been damaged by a stink bug. The damage is typically occurring in trees along the edges of orchard blocks, especially near wooded areas.

Fruit Diseases

            As fruit continues to ripen and be harvested, we continue to move forward through the growing season without many disease issues in our area. If you are doing any final treatments for fruit diseases, pay close attention to the PHI on the product label. The pre-harvest interval determines how long after you applied that product that you may harvest the crop. This is especially important to pay attention to as many varieties of orchard crops as well as grapes are maturing and nearing harvest.

Wayne County IPM Notes for August 30 – September 5

Wayne County IPM Notes

(From the Week of August 30 – September 5)

Frank Becker, OSU Extension Wayne County

Vegetable Pests

Various sizes of stink bug nymphs in the leaf litter of fall vine crops. F. Becker photo.

With daytime high temperatures becoming cooler, we are starting to see more and more activity from the squash bugs. If you are actively harvesting your fall vine crops, the squash bugs may not be of concern to you. However, if you are not yet harvesting or choosing to leave your fall vine crops out in the field, the squash bugs can and will do damage to the skin of the pumpkins and gourds. The best time to scout your fields to look for squash bugs is early in the morning or into the evening when they are not in direct sunlight. More on squash bug management.

Cucumber beetles have made a late season come back, much to the dismay of many fall vine crop growers. The cucumber beetles, this late in the season, tend to do very little damage to the foliage of the plants. What they do go for is the fruit instead. Beetles will damage the skins of pumpkins and gourds. This leaves the pumpkins and gourds as less desirable crops and also opens them up to infection and secondary insect pests that would otherwise not affect the fruit.

Late season damage being done by cucumber beetles. F. Becker photo.

Stink bugs are out and doing damage to crops such as tomatoes. The stink bugs activity and feeding starts to increase most noticeably from late July through August and they remain active through the end of the growing season. Their damage on green tomatoes may appear as small, whiteish areas. On ripe tomatoes, the damage shows up as a golden yellow “starburst” pattern. While this damage is typically only cosmetic, higher amounts of feeding can result in infection and result in the fruit being unmarketable.

Vegetable Diseases

Plectosporium blight on pumpkin can cause significant crop losses. The disease typically presents itself as diamond shaped lesions on the stems and can also affect the veins on the leaves, although it can infect all parts of the plant. The lesions start out small but can quickly cover the entire stem. This disease has started to show up within the last few weeks in Ohio due to the favorable conditions of rain, and cooler temperatures.

Plectosporium blight lesions on a pumpkin stem. F. Becker photo.

A common thing to see in pumpkin fields as plants are maturing is yellowing leaves and the leaves starting to die back. Although there may be diseases such as powdery mildew present in the field, this rapid deterioration is not likely solely the result of the disease pressure and rather the natural senescence of the plant. As the plant matures and the pumpkins and gourds begin to cure, the plant has essentially reached the end of its life cycle. The leaves begin to change from dark green to a pale green/yellowish color and will eventually begin to die back. So long as this is happening at the end of the season and the pumpkins and gourds are mature, there should be no concern.

Fruit Pests

Spotted wing drosophila have been active in small fruits for some time, but with peaches now being harvested, the SWD can and will target the peaches as well. I have found peaches that have SWD larva feeding just under the skin. SWD can also do damage to grapes. I have started to find berries in grape clusters that were soft or looked poorly. Just under the skin of these grapes I found SWD larva feeding and moving around. Many grapes are ripening and getting close to harvest so anyone with grapes should consider treating for SWD.

Stink bugs can also do a lot of damage to fruit crops this time of year. I have set out traps and they are already showing very active stink bug populations. I am also finding damage from stink bugs in orchard crops. Most of the damage I am finding has been occurring in apples. This damage appears as a discolored depression in the skin with corking of the flesh all the way up to the skin. This damage can occur anywhere on the apple, although it can be frequently found on the “shoulder” of the fruit.

Fruit Diseases

Overall, disease pressure has been fairly limited this year. Hot and dry conditions have prevented favorable conditions needed for disease development. As fruit continues to ripen and be harvested, we continue to move forward through the growing season without many disease issues in our area. If you are doing any final treatments for fruit diseases, pay close attention to the PHI on the product label. The pre-harvest interval determines how long after you applied that product that you may harvest the crop. This is especially important to pay attention to as many varieties of orchard crops as well as grapes are maturing and nearing harvest.

Apple that has cracked and split after a heavy rain following drought conditions. F. Becker photo.

After this recent round of heavy rain and subsequent heat and high humidity, apple growers should be aware that some apples may crack or split while still on the tree. We are fortunate that we were beginning to have some more frequent rains that were starting to alleviate drought conditions, and this prevented rapid uptake from the trees. Typically, when a heavy rain occurs after prolonged dry spells or during drought conditions, there is large amounts of moisture taken up through the roots as well as absorbed through the skin of the fruit. This results in rapid cell expansion and thus cracking, and splitting occurs.

IPM Notes for August 23 – August 29

Wayne County IPM Notes

(From the Week of August 23 – August 29)

Frank Becker, OSU Extension Wayne County

Vegetable Pests

Cucumber beetles have made a late season come back, much to the dismay of many fall vine crop growers. The cucumber beetles, this late in the season, tend to do very little damage to the foliage of the plants. What they do go for is the fruit instead. Beetles will damage the skins of pumpkins and gourds. This leaves the pumpkins and gourds as less desirable crops and also opens them up to infection and secondary insect pests that would otherwise not affect the fruit.

Stink bugs are out and doing damage to crops such as tomatoes. The stink bugs activity and feeding starts to increase most noticeably from late July through August and they remain active through the end of the growing season. Their damage on green tomatoes may appear as small, whiteish areas. On ripe tomatoes, the damage shows up as a golden yellow “starburst” pattern. While this damage is typically only cosmetic, higher amounts of feeding can result in infection and result in the fruit being unmarketable.

Flea beetles continue to feed on several crops including tomatoes and cole crops. The feeding on tomato plants is not of major concern mostly because the damage I am seeing is on the lower leaves. The damage on cole crops is of more concern due to the areas of the plants being damaged. The flea beetles are feeding on young tender leaves on kale plants as well as causing heavy damage on young plantings of broccoli and cabbage. Too much damage at this point can stunt the plants growth and result in reduced yield. Another generation of imported cabbageworm larvae are also feeding on the recently transplanted cole crops.

Vegetable Diseases

            Powdery mildew can be very destructive on summer squash and fall vine crops. I have been finding powdery mildew consistently in younger squash plantings. One of the major concerns with powdery mildew for fall vine crop growers is that it can weaken the handle on pumpkins and gourds. Once the handles have hardened, the risk of powdery mildew affecting them drops significantly.

A common thing to see in pumpkin fields as plants are maturing is yellowing leaves and the leaves starting to die back. Although there may be diseases such as powdery mildew present in the field, this rapid deterioration is not likely the result of the disease pressure and rather the natural senescence of the plant. As the plant matures and the pumpkins and gourds begin to cure, the plant has essentially reached the end of its life cycle. The leaves begin to change from dark green to a pale green/yellowish color and will eventually begin to die back. So long as this is happening at the end of the season and the pumpkins and gourds are mature, there should be no concern.

Fruit Pests

Spotted wing drosophila have been active in small fruits for some time, but with peaches starting to ripen and now being harvested, the SWD can and will target the peaches as well. I have started to find peaches that have SWD larva feeding just under the skin.

SWD can also do damage to grapes. I have started to find berries in grape clusters that were soft or looked poorly. Just under the skin of these grapes I found SWD larva feeding and moving around. Many grapes are ripening and getting close to harvest so anyone with grapes should consider treating for SWD.

Stink bugs can also do a lot of damage to fruit crops this time of year. I have set out traps and they are already showing very active stink bug populations. I am also finding damage from stink bugs in orchard crops.  This damage appears as a discolored depression in the skin with corking of the flesh all the way up to the skin. This damage can occur anywhere on the apple.

Fruit Diseases

            Overall, disease pressure has been fairly limited this year. Hot and dry conditions have prevented favorable conditions needed for disease development. As fruit continues to ripen and be harvested, we continue to move forward through the growing season without many disease issues in our area.

If you are doing any final treatments for fruit diseases, pay close attention to the PHI on the product label. The pre-harvest interval determines how long after you applied that product that you may harvest the crop. This is especially important to pay attention to as many varieties of orchard crops as well as grapes are maturing and nearing harvest.

Wayne County IPM Notes from August 16 – August 22

Wayne County IPM Notes

(From the Week of August 16 – August 22)

Frank Becker, OSU Extension Wayne County

Vegetable Pests

Stink bugs have started to feed on and damage crops such as tomatoes. The stink bugs activity and feeding starts to increase most noticeably from late July through August and they remain active through the end of the growing season. Their damage on green tomatoes may appear as small, whitish areas. On ripe tomatoes, the damage shows up as a golden yellow “starburst” pattern. While this damage is typically only cosmetic, higher amounts of feeding can result in infection and result in the fruit being unmarketable.

Flea beetles feeding on young, fall planted, cole crops. F. Becker photo

Flea beetles continue to feed on several crops including tomatoes and cole crops. The feeding on tomato plants is not of major concern mostly because the damage I am seeing is on the lower leaves. The damage on cole crops is of more concern due to the areas of the plants being damaged. The flea beetles are feeding on young tender leaves on kale plants as well as causing heavy damage on young plantings of broccoli and cabbage. Too much damage at this point can stunt the plants growth and result in reduced yield.

The trap counts for sweet corn pests in Wayne County are overall down. Sweet corn growers should be keeping an eye out for army worm damage as we have had reports of high fall army worm trap counts as well as damage that was being done by the yellow striped army worm. More on recent trap counts

Vegetable Diseases

            Downy Mildew is in Wayne and Medina counties and likely in surrounding counties as well. Cucumber growers need to be spraying for downy mildew.

Powdery mildew can be just as destructive on squash as downy mildew is on cucumbers. I have been finding powdery mildew consistently in younger squash plantings. Unfortunately, the earlier the plant is infected with powdery mildew, the shorter the life span of the plant. With an infected plant having a short life span, the yield for the plant can also be expected to decrease.

Smut is especially prevalent on sweet corn this year. Smut is more common during hot and dry weather, especially when followed by a heavy, warm rain. This year has been the perfect year for prime smut infection and growth.

In some pepper fields, there has been a few spots of anthracnose found on the fruit. Anthracnose typically does not affect the pepper foliage; however, the pepper fruits are highly susceptible to infection from the disease. Peppers develop large sunken lesions with pink to orange colored spores. This disease can be found typically on the lower sets of fruit, where they are more likely to be splashed with soil from heavy rains.

Fruit Pests

Spotted wing drosophila have been active in small fruits for some time, but with peaches starting to ripen, the SWD can and will target the peaches as well. I have started to find peaches that have SWD larva feeding just under the skin.

SWD can also do damage to grapes. This week I started to find berries in grape clusters that were soft or looked poorly. Just under the skin of these grapes I found SWD larva feeding and moving around. Many grapes are ripening and getting close to harvest so anyone with grapes should consider treating for SWD.

Brown marmorated stink bug trap with adults and nymphs present. F. Becker photo.

Stink bugs can also do a lot of damage to fruit crops this time of year. We have traps out for the brown marmorated stink bug, which will help us monitor its population, however, I am already finding some stink bug damage on peaches and apples. This damage appears as a discolored depression in the skin with corking of the flesh all the way up to the skin. This damage can occur anywhere on the apple.

Fruit Diseases

            Overall, disease pressure has been fairly limited this year. Hot and dry conditions have prevented favorable conditions needed for disease development. As fruit continues to ripen and be harvested, we continue to move forward through the growing season without many disease issues in our area.

Some grape varieties are nearing harvest. At this point, there should be no significant disease concerns, especially so close to harvest. The same goes for orchard crops.

If you are doing any final treatments for fruit diseases, pay close attention to the PHI on the product label. The pre-harvest interval determines how long after you applied that product that you may harvest the crop. This is especially important to pay attention to as many varieties of orchard crops as well as grapes are maturing and nearing harvest.