February 27, 2007

Meeting helps producers protect pumpkin, melon crops

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Pumpkins and melons are multiplying in northern Indiana, so the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service in Fulton County is planning a vegetable growers meeting on March 20 to help growers improve their crops.

Managing Pests in Commercial Pumpkins and Melons will begin at 1 p.m. (EST) at the Fulton County Fairgrounds, 1009 W. Third St., Rochester, Ind.

"More and more people are getting involved in growing pumpkins and melons, so although it will be worthwhile to all, we plan to focus on the basics," Extension educator Mark Kepler said.

A presentation, led by Purdue pest management specialist Dan Egel, will focus on diseases, the problems they present and how to minimize damage.

"One disease that I plan to cover is downy mildew," Egel said. "Although this used to be a nuisance disease, within the last four years it has started affecting the plants earlier in the growing season, which has caused concern for Midwest cucurbit growers."

Another potential problem Egel plans to discuss stems from last year's pumpkin rot epidemic.

"The two diseases that most often cause pumpkins to rot are Phytophthora blight and Fusarium fruit rot," Egel said. "After last year, these diseases are causing growers to have concerns about pumpkins."

Luckily, there are ways to manage these diseases, he said.

"One way for producers to help protect their crops is by tracking the epidemics," Egel said. "In the case of downy mildew, this disease overwinters in the Southeast and moves north as watermelons move northward. Tracking the diseases tells producers when it's time to take action, such as spraying fungicides."

Producers can track diseases by visiting the Purdue Vegetable Crop Hotline Web site at http://www.entm.purdue.edu/Entomology/
vegisite/commercial/hotline2003.html
, or they can pick up management tips from the "Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Vegetable Growers" online at http://www.btny.purdue.edu/Pubs/ID/ID-56/.

Other presentations given during the program will include "Managing Weeds," by Liz Maynard, Purdue regional vegetable specialist, and "Insect Control" by Rick Foster, Purdue vegetable entomologist.

"These experts will provide growers with useable information that will benefit them and their operations," Kepler said.

In addition to the featured speakers, Kepler also will present "Pesticide Recordkeeping" as a pesticide regulatory topic for those seeking pesticide license recertification. Those seeking credit should bring their license to the meeting.

"Since we were already going to be covering weed, insect and disease topics, we decided it also would be beneficial to offer pesticide recertification credit," Kepler said.

Cost of the program is $20 per person, with an additional $10 fee for pesticide recertification. Registration is due by March 16 and can be completed by contacting a local Purdue Extension office and requesting a brochure, or by calling Kepler at (574) 223-3397.

Writer: Jennifer Stewart, (765) 494-6682, jsstewar@purdue.edu

Sources: Mark Kepler, (574) 223-3397, mkepler@purdue.edu

Dan Egel, (812) 886-0198, egel@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
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