by Connie Oswald Stofko
If you’re having trouble with your cucumber, melon, pumpkin or squash this year, you’re not alone.
A disease called cucurbit downy mildew (CDM) has already been identified in Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming and Cattaraugus counties. This map shows the spread of CDM.
Chautauqua County and Northern Pennsylvania expect to see the disease soon. Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chautauaqu County would like gardeners to send in samples of suspected cases of CDM. (See more below.)
Unfortunately, there’s not much home gardeners can do about this disease, said Emily Reynolds, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chautauqua County. Most home remedies and off-the-shelf fungicide products do little to stop an infection.
Luckily, resistant varieties of plants are available and are a great choice for planting in home gardens next year, she said.
About cucurbit downy mildew
CDM causes rectangular checkerboarding that stays within the boundaries of veins.
The pathogen doesn’t affect fruit directly. The affected leaves die prematurely, which results in fewer fruits. The plant can also produce fruit of low quality, such as misshapen cucumbers, poor flavor or sunscald. (Sunscald occurs when the fruit is exposed directly to sunlight; a healthy plant has enough leaves to protect the fruit from too much light.)
Samples needed from Chautauqua County
Cornell’s vegetable specialists are looking to collect a few samples from Chautauqua County. Home gardeners should contact the Chautauqua County master gardeners at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or 716-664-9502, ext.224.
Suspected cases of should be put into a zip seal baggie with a big breath of air or spritz of water and left on the counter overnight to force sporulation. Once sporulating, CDM can be visually confirmed by Cornell Cooperative Extension.
The samples will help researchers find better controls of cucurbit downy mildew. Learn more about the disease here.