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Implementing a Management Program for Phytophthora Blight of Cucurbits 2002

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Project Leader(s):

Meg McGrath, Dept. of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Riverhead

Carol MacNeil, Vegetable Specialist, CCE Ontario-Wayne-Yates Counties

Alan Erb, Vegetable Specialist, CCE Lake Plains Vegetable Program

Ted Blomgren, Vegetable Specialist, CCE Capital District Vegetable Program


Abby Seaman, Area Vegetable IPM Specialist, WNY

John Mishanec, Area Vegetable IPM Specialist, ENY

cucurbit growers in each participating county

Type of grant: Cultural methods; sanitation; physical controls

Project location(s): Ontario, Monroe and Schoharie counties


Phytophthora blight is a very devastating disease that sometimes results in total crop loss. It has been increasing in importance and thus is a high priority for the IPM program. The goal of this project was to continue to work with growers in upstate New York to implement management practices identified through research conducted on Long Island. Current recommendations center around preventing the pathogen from being moved into a new field and managing soil moisture to avoid saturated conditions which favor disease onset. Fourteen fields were selected for the study on commercial farms where blight has been a problem. Management practices implemented include: selecting fields with no history of blight (13 fields), selecting fields that were not planted to a susceptible crop in 2000 or 2001 (11 fields), deep ripping between rows to improve soil drainage (8 fields), no-till production into rye+hairy vetch+clover to obtain a straw mulch barrier (1 field), and applying compost to improve drainage and increase microbial activity (1 field). Weather conditions were very dry during the summer of 2002 and thus not favorable for Phytophthora blight, which was fortunate for the growers but unfortunate for studying management practices. Blight only developed in 1 of the 14 fields. Symptoms had not been observed in this field previously, but it was next to a field where blight had occurred in 1999, pickling cucumbers were grown in the field in 2001, and deep ripping was not used to improve drainage. Symptoms were observed near the irrigation reel where soil was wetter than the rest of the field. This further documents the importance of wet soils for blight development. An additional component of this project was to further extent information to growers about Phytophthora blight and its management. This was done through newsletters, one-on-one visits, field meetings, the Capital District Vegetable Seminar, and regional conferences including the 2002 NYS Vegetable Conference.

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