Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Seasonal roundup

Powdery mildew
With cooler weather comes a decline in production of summer squash and increase in powdery mildew on both summer and winter squash. Hopefully many fruit have been harvested or are near-ready for harvest. Photo is of powdery mildew on Kabocha winter squash. Powdery mildew decreases photosynthesis and weakens plants affecting nutrients available to form fruit and their flavor.

Control is mostly preventive through a full sun location and good air circulation. Water at the soil level rather than on leaves. Potassium bicarbonate (Remedy) can be used as a preventive or in the very early stages of infection. Some fungicides such as neem (Greenlight Powdery Mildew Killer) and horticultural oil do have some effect on killing existing infections.

Cabbage aphids
They're back......! Cabbage aphids thrive in cool fall weather and can be a real problem on savoy cabbage and Brussel sprouts (photo). They penetrate in and among the curled leaves and where sprouts set down in the leaf axil. Their feeding distorts and contaminates the harvest. Cabbage aphids overwinter on wild mustard family plants so weed control near the growing area is important.

Control is tough because of their waxy covering that makes these gray-green aphids appear bluish-white. Lady beetles don't like them because of the wax. Syrphid flies are another predator that may help. Unfortunately the activity of predators decreases late in the season when short days and cool temperatures reduce the activity of natural enemies. Parasitic wasps aid the cause but parasitized aphids tend to tightly stick to foliage compounding contamination problems.

Botanicals such as azadirachtin insect growth regulator, neem oil or pyrethins can be tried as well as horticultural oils when insect population thresholds warrant applications.

Destroy crop residue after harvest to minimize overwintering populations.

Photo credit: Powdery mildew on Kabocha squash, Cabbage aphid on Brussel sprouts - both Carl Wilson

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