Predicting Future Cucurbit Crop Disease Risk Using Disease History

Past disease presence can indicate a risk for the same disease this year. Many pathogens overwinter on infected plant material or as pathogen survival structures. Poor sanitation practices can lead to an increased risk of these diseases in the upcoming season. In addition, pathogens can be introduced via transplants or seeds.  A record of cucurbit crop (cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupe, pumpkins, zucchini, and summer and winter squashes) disease samples submitted to University of Kentucky Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratories in 2022 are displayed here. The most common diseases of cucurbits were fruit rot (bacterial soft rot, Choanephora) and leaf spots (Anthracnose, Corynespora, target spot) and powdery mildew (Figure 1).

Figure 1: A summary of cucurbit disease samples submitted to UK Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratories in 2022.

Assessment of diseases likely to occur during the growing season provides the opportunity to utilize preventative management measures. The University of Kentucky Department of Plant Pathology provides numerous publications with additional information and management options for these diseases. County Extension agents also provide information on disease diagnosis and management.

Additional Resources

  • Bacterial Wilt of Cucurbits (PPFS-VG-11)
  • Bacterial Wilt of Cucurbits Quick Facts (PPFS-VG-11-QF)
  • Cucurbit Downy Mildew in Kentucky (PPFS-VG-27)
  • Foliar Diseases of Cucurbits (PPFS-VG-10)
  • Fruit Rots of Cucurbits (PPFS-VG-07)
  • Gummy Stem Blight and Black Rot of Cucurbits (PPFS-VG-08)
  • Powdery Mildew (PPFS-GEN-02)
  • IPM Scouting Guide for Common Problems of Cucurbit Crops in Kentucky (1.8 MB) (ID-91)
  • Sustainable Disease Management of Cucurbit Crops in the Home Garden (PPFS-VG-19)
  • Home Vegetable Gardening (ID-128)
  • Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers (ID-36)  
  • University of Kentucky Department of Plant Pathology Vegetable Extension Publications (Link)
  • University of Kentucky Vegetable Crops Extension & Research Website (Link)
  • KY Plant Disease Facebook Page (Link)
  • Twitter – @KYPlantDisease
  • Kentucky Vegetable Crops Extension & Research YouTube (Link)
  • Instagram – @ UK_veg_crops

By: Kim Leonberger, Plant Pathology Extension Associate, and Nicole Gauthier, Plant Pathology Extension Specialist

Posted in Vegetables
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