Imagine Biting Into A Pickle and Finding a Worm

Pickle Worms

Pickle Worms

Farmers in Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina grow 250 million pounds of cucumbers each year which are processed into pickles. The most troublesome insect pest on cucumbers in these states is the pickleworm. The pickleworm is a tropical pest and lives year-round in Florida and moves up the coast in the summer. Each female lays about 350 eggs on cucumber and related plants. The pickleworm larvae bore into the cucumbers where they eat out a large cavity which is contaminated with the worm’s excrement. Frequent insecticide sprays are needed to prevent the pickleworm from entering and contaminating pickles.

“A major insect problem, pickleworms follow spring north each year to lay eggs in the 50,000 acres of cucumbers in North and South Carolina. As summer progresses, the insect becomes a problem in states farther north.

The adult pickleworm moths lay eggs in the fields. Larvae hatch and eat their way into young cucumbers.

Growers start spraying their fields with potent pesticides almost every week for the moths’ 6- to 7-week season as soon as the nighttime temperature reaches 60°F—the temperature the moths follow north.

Why the worm witch hunt? It’s because pickle packers will refuse to accept a truckload of cucumbers if they notice even one with a pickleworm hole. (Understandably enough—imagine biting into a pickle and finding…)”

Author: Kaplan, K.
Affiliation: ARS.
Title: Less Pickleworm Pesticide.
Source: Agricultural Research. 1989. June.

What’s a Cucurbit? Downy Mildew Knows.

Cucumber Downy Mildew

Cucumber Downy Mildew

Cucurbits are a plant family consisting of squashes, melons and gourds, including crops such as cantaloupes, cucumbers, pumpkins and watermelons. Most of the plants in the cucurbit family are annual climbing or trailing vines. Downy mildew of cucurbits is caused by a fungus which infects only cucurbit crops. Downy mildew symptoms are almost exclusively confined to the leaves. The tiny spores of the fungus fall on a leaf, germinate and force food absorbing organs into the leaf. These rootlike structures remove nutrients from the plant. Downy mildew can defoliate an entire watermelon field in 10 to 14 days.

“Clemson University plant pathologist Anthony Keinath urges South Carolina farmers to scout and spray after downy mildew infection was found June 18 on non-sprayed sentinel watermelon at Clemson’s Coastal Research and Education Center (REC) in Charleston. It is the earliest in the growing season that the watermelon strain of the disease has been found in South Carolina.The mildew also was found on cucumber, cantaloupe and several different varieties of squash over the past two weeks.

“The rainy, cloudy weather we’ve been having favors rapid outbreaks of downy mildew. Early detection is critical to controlling outbreaks,” said Keinath, professor of plant pathology in Clemson’s School of Agricultural, Forest, and Environmental Sciences (SAFES).

Keinath advises all South Carolina growers of cucurbits, a family of plants that includes various squashes, melons and gourds, to immediately apply preventative fungicides and walk their fields twice per week to scout for the mildew.”

Author: Clemson University
Affiliation: Clemson University
Title: South Carolina cucurbit growers advised to treat for downy mildew
Source: Southeast Farm Press. June 20th, 2013.