Citizen Scientists Wanted: Cucurbit Downy Mildew
This cucurbit downy mildew sentinel plot was planted at the MSU Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs during the spring 2016 growing season. Sentinel crops are planted twice a year to help scientists detect when cucurbit down mildew first enters the state and is active. (File photo by Rebecca A. Melanson)
MSU scientists are on the lookout for a cucurbit crop bandit. And they need your help!
Cucurbit downy mildew is a sneaky thief with the ability to quickly and significantly reduce yields or wipe out entire crops of susceptible cucurbits, including cucumbers, melons, pumpkins and squash.
It looks like this on cucumber leaves:
Mississippi State University Extension Service specialists keep a watchful eye with sentinel plots planted each spring and fall. Plots are located in central Mississippi at the Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs and in northeast Mississippi at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona. These plots help scientists detect when the disease first arrives and is active in those areas of the state.
What you can do to help
If you suspect cucurbit downy mildew in your commercial crop or backyard garden, contact your local Extension office to help make a positive identification.
Why your participation is important
Confirmed cases are reported to the cucurbit downy mildew forecasting website, provided by North Carolina State University. The site helps scientists and producers track where the disease occurs each year. Locations of confirmed cases are combined with weather data to help predict where the disease may occur later in the growing season. These forecast tools can help you and other producers make decisions about fungicide application before the cucurbit crop bandit steals your yields.
You can find more information about cucurbit downy mildew and best practices for sample collection and disease identification here.
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