panhandlejanAugust 10, 2009

Hi I'm new here. I gardened for many years in Colorado at over 7.000 ft elevation and 8 in annual moisture. The only major garden problem was a very short (3 mo) growing season and cool ltemperautes. Hardly any bug or disease issues because it was too cold.

About 20 years ago we moved to the panhandle of OK with a young family and I have gardened sporadically but mostly raised children and worked full time. My youngest leaves for college next week and after over 12 years of having all my fall and sping weekends spent watching athletic events I will have time to garden again. :)

I have been reading OK garden web posts for about a month and have learned much and enjoyed the postings. I planted a few things mid-June when my son and husband finished a 6 ft fence to keep out rabbits, pheasants, cattle and other uninvited guests. My problem right now is my cucumbers. The leaves are turning yellow and some of the vines are dead. The cucumber fruit looks like it has scars on it and tonight 2 of the cucs have a hard, amber colored secretion on them. I have been searching the web on cuc diseases and pests but haven't figured out the problem. I do have a few cucumber beetles showing but the yellowing of the leaves started before the beetles. I don't find any other insects except pollinators on them. I have the vines growing on a trellis and mulched. There were cucs planted in the same place last year so I suspect a soil borne disease but thought I would have seen evidence of it before now.

Thanks for any help you can give.


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Welcome to the Okie garden's nice to see another neighbor growing things here in Oklahoma. Sounds like you've made a pretty good head start. I can relate to high altitude growing having done a little of that in Wyoming. We always had gorgeous tomatoes, but had to buy plants that were already large and blossomed out.
Sorry your having problems with your cukes. I'm sure some of the more seasoned gardeners will come along with some suggestions. What I know most about growing cukes, is that they need LOTS AND LOTS of water. And they constantly remind me of it! When they don't get the water they need, the get stressed and the cukes start looking the same, stressed. I don't know if that's the problem. Maybe not. Just a thought.
As for me, I'm getting ready now to find a place -somewhere-for a fall crop of pickling cucumbers. I like to eat them raw or in salads just as well as the slicers.
Anyways, welcome and good luck here in Oklahoma.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 11:21PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Jan,

Welcome to the Oklahoma Forum.

Cucumbers are easy to grow, but they do suffer from numerous pests and diseases (almost too many to list).

I grow cucumbers in spring/early summer and yank out the vines when they start declining in July. Then, in August I plant seeds for the fall crop, and it is substantially larger than the spring crop (so I can make pickles in cooler fall weather and also in the 'lull' between the heavy summer harvest and heavy late fall harvest).

Getting spring-planted cucumbers through the entire summer and into fall is very hard specifically because of the large number of pests and diseases that bother them. So, my suggestion is to start new plants for fall. I started mine from seed last week and they are up and have their first true leaves already.

With the existing plants, there are probably several issues already, so I'll list some of what you might be seeing:

If green leaves are getting yellowish spots, it could be downy mildew, which is a fungal disease. If green leaves are getting a talcum powder colored coating on them, that is powdery mildew, also a fungal disease. You could treat the plants with a fungicide approved for use on cucumber plants, but the diseases are easier to prevent (via regular applications of a fungicide) than to treat after they've appeared.

Because you're in the panhandle and have significantly drier conditions than many of us, you probably have more insect pests to deal with than many of us because the insects in dry areas just flock to green gardens. You might have spider mites on your cucumber leaves. Check the backs of the leaves for tiny red or black dots about the size of the "dot" over an "i". Hold a sheet of white paper underneath a leaf and thump or shake that leaf. If a lot of little "dots" fall to the white paper and start moving around, those are the mites. It is hard to control mites once they're established, so the best thing to do is to pull the plants and immediately bag them and dispose of them so the mites can't move to some other plants in your garden.

You might be seeing leaf damage caused by leaf miners, squash bugs, aphids or cucumber beetles. Since leaf miners seldom do enough damage to hurt the plants, I ignore them. The aphids, squash bugs and cucumber beetles (both the striped ones and spotted ones) suck juices from the plants which can cause them to wilt and die.

I've never had a hard amber secretion oozing from cukes, but suspect that something...maybe pickle worms or stink bugs have been feeding on your pickles.

Younger plants generally resist pest damage and keep on growing and producing. The older and more stressed the plants, though, the less well they are able to overcome the pests and diseases, which is another argument for planting a new fall crop. Also, when cucumber plants get stressed (and yours definitely are stressed), their production drops and the cukes they produce often have a bitter taste to them so it isn't even worth your while to keep those tired plants hanging on because the cukes will be lower quality than those produced earlier in the season under less stressful conditions.

People think Oklahoma has one long growing season, but the truth is that we have several "mini" seasons back to back. For example, here in southern OK (but the timing is a bit later for those of you further north), we can start planting in January/February, using the most cold hardy crops like onions and beets, followed by peas, potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, carrots, and other cool season crops in Feb/March. In March, some tomatoes, Swiss Chard, and sweet corn can go into the ground, followed by almost everything else in April and early May, including cucumbers, green beans, eggplant, peppers, squash, pumpkins, more tomatoes, etc. In May and June, the sweet potatoes, okra, and southern peas (black-eyed, crowder, cream, purple hull, etc.) go in. So, then you're done, right?

No, as cool-season crops come out, you can replace them with succession plantings of more beans, squash and peppers (and just about everything else) for fall. Then, in late summer, as the heat wears out a lot of the crops planted in spring and early summer, you can succession plant more warm-season or cool-season crops for fall. You'll often get better production in fall from new, fresh plants than from old, tired, diseased, pest-ridden ones. Once you get the timing of succession planting down pat, you just know by the way a plant looks (and your cukes sound like they may be at this stage) that it is time to yank out the old and put in the new. That's how you keep a pretty steady harvest coming for months and months.

I keep peppers in the ground and producing from spring through fall, and some tomatoes, sweet potatoes and herbs. Almost everything else, though, gets replaced with fresh succession plantings that will often give a heavier fall harvest than the summer one.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 10:13AM
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devilwoman(7a Warr Acres OK)

My cucumbers have had some leaves that looked ill at the base of the plants, but the silly things are continuing to produce cucumbers. I picked three more yesterday and had picked two over the weekend. I know there are at least three more growing, but there could be more I don't see. These things are sneaky! They hide under those enormous leaves, and it becomes a treasure hunt to prowl through looking for fruit that's either forming or ready to pick. Last night I knew there should be two ready to pick, but I found a third I didn't even know was there.

They have long outgrown the cages and trellis I put up for them. I have to remove them from both the purple hull peas and okra as they keep trying to latch onto them and take over everything in their vicinity. They continue to have loads of flowers which the bees seem to like quite well.

I've lost count, but I know I've picked in excess of two dozen fruit since mid June which, to me at least, seems like a pretty fair haul for just two plants. I'm wondering what must be done and how hard it would be to keep seeds from one of these for next year.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 11:48AM
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Well, I am "cucumber challenged".

For years I've tried to grow them and they've always died on me and made some of the most ridiculous-looking comma-shaped fruit you ever saw. This year I did better, using Chicago Pickling Cuke seed, but there's still lots of room for improvement. My vines have all died now but one. I did manage to make some dill pickles though.

I have found that cucumber plants don't seem to do very well in my raised beds, even though the soil is nice there. There's just too much drainage. So what I need to do is to find a ground-level location in my yard where they can climb but where the soil is built up enough to give them the nutrients they need. This year I planted along the fence where I had been working on the soil, but it's just not quite there yet. The plants climbed on the fence and wouldn't you know it, all the cucumbers ended up growing on the outside of the fence and I had a lot of trouble picking them as I didn't want to trespass on my neighbor and cope with their Cujo wannabe Jack Russel. I notice the cucumber vines kind of struggle in the full, hot sun, which we got early this year.

Next year, I think I will put up a piece of cattle panel, on it's side, down the center of the bed that's on ground level, where I grew okra last year and extra tomato plants this year. I'll plant cukes on both sides of the panel. They'll get some partial shade from the apple trees and I'll be able to pick from either side.

George taught me how to save seed from cukes. You have to leave the cuke on the vine and watch it turn gold, and then amber, and even almost rotten. Then pick it and save the seed. If the seed looks like it's "caved in", then it's probably not viable. I notice I'm getting some of those no matter what, but I am getting some that are filled out. I have noticed though, that when you leave a cuke on the vine that long, it seems to signal the vine not to make any more flowers, so I think it's good to plant enough seed that you can devote one or two plants to just making seed.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 1:45PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Also, be sure you're saving seed from an open-pollinated variety and not from a hybrid, because seeds saved from hybrids don't necessarily come true from seed.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 1:51PM
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Don't do what I did. A few years ago, I had a "hidden" cuke that stayed on the vine too long. I found it and brought it into the house but decided it was just too big to eat. I think it was raining or something and I didn't want to go to the compost pile. Hey, they were just veggies and compost is needed everywhere, right? I tossed it in the back of the flower bed. I have had a vine there every year. In fact, my first cuke of the year came from the flower bed. My prettiest vine in the garden is a volunteer that came up under the trellis where I am sure I just left a fruit at the end of the season, or threw one down that had gotten too big. Believe me, they are not hard to grow, but the vines are usually looking pretty ugly by the time you are picking cukes. I usually plant at least twice in a year.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 2:10PM
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My cucumbers and squash always just kind of crap out after they've produced heavily for weeks. I'm going to try to stagger the plantings next year. Could be some disease issues, but I can imagine that the panhandle is pretty hot. Maybe it's the pheasants. I'll take care of them for you! : )

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 5:00PM
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Nice to have someone else from the Panhandle area. I've kinda been the lone ranger from this area. I actually live in Elkhart, KS. I do a lot of my shopping in Guymon, OK. My sister and her family lives half way between the two. I garden here and help them with theirs a little. They garden on a small scale.

Watch Dawn she'll get you addicted. LOL.

I usually stagger my plantings and have good luck. I lost one this year that looked somewhat like you said. i don't worry that much about cukes. Just start another one. I have grown in the same area and never had any problems. The bugs do bother them. And some of the same ones that bother tomatoes. Aphids carry some of the diseases and can come from farm crops. I feel I lost one cuke and at least one tomato to cucumber mosaic virus this year. At least they fit the description. But overall easy to grow.

Look forward to hearing about your experiences as you are closer and share some of the same weather I have. Welcome aboard. Jay

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 8:14PM
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Thanks everyone. I guess I'll go put some more seed in the ground and hope for a average-late frost. Our first frost is usually in mid-October so I have about a month less for fall gardening than many of you. We have eaten many cucumbers but I really want a few gallons of refrigerator dills. They are addicting.

Jay- I have read many of your posts and learned much about panhandle gardening. I always tell my husband, a panhandle native, that there was a good reason for calling this no mans land. We live south of Hooker but go to church and shop often in Guymon.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 8:26PM
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Welcome, Jan. I will be palnting my fall cucs today. Would love to have your recipe for refrigerator dills. Would you mind starting another thread with it?


    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 8:36AM
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I know a lot of people around Hooker. My aunt and uncle live between Tyrone and Hooker. My Mother and Stepdad lives in Liberal. Used to shop there most of the time. But after having my pu broke into and a few things only go there to see my Mother now. I do most of my shopping in Guymon. Did attend churh at Guymon and also at Hough. I imagine you saw my post where I said that the Mexican cafe in Hooker was my favorite. Really like their Green Chili Burrito but have never ate a bad meal there.
I imagine your garden maybe tight ground. My gardens have been mainly in sandy soils. My sister and BIL use old tanks and feed tubs due to the bindweed.

I will be interested how your cukes do. If we have a late freeze you should do fine. And you can always cover them for one or two cool nights. As you know we ofter have several warms days and nights after that first freeze. I always figured to have my last ones planted by July 25th to August 1st. I will start stagger planting my fall radishes this week. Then going to try to grow some lettuce and a few other things in my cold frame later. Jay

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 12:09PM
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Usually the scars on cucumbers come from a cucumber beetle, which are little paths on the outside of the cucumber where they eat and the fruit scabs over where the bug was eating.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 3:11PM
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jo3ponies(zone 7)

I have also lurked for a long time. Today I have sat at this cumputer searching for info on what is plaguing my cukes and zukes, with no luck. I am in sw Ok and have cukes and zukes that I planted about 3 weeks ago...they are flourishing!!! Putting on tiny fruit!!! This morning I noticed that there were some curling of small leaves and looking under the leaves I found it covered with yellow and gray spots. Not sure if those are eggs or actual bugs but am in a panick!! Hope someone can tell me what to do before they destroy my plants. Thank you.

Refrigerator dills sounds yummy...can't wait for the link.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 6:46PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

jo3ponies, Hold a white sheet of paper underneath the leaves and thump the leaves. See if those little yellow and gray spots fall off onto the paper and start moving around. That would be the first clue they are insects. If you have a magnifying glass, you can look at them through the magnifying glass and see if they look like insects or eggs. Insects generally would have legs you could see.

About how big are the yellow and gray spots? 1/16th inch? 1/8th inch? 1/32nd inch long? Figuring out the size helps you begin to figure out what you have.

What you would, could or should do with them depends on what they are. You could, of course, spray the undersides of the leaves with a general purpose pesticide. If you do that, please do it in the evening hours when the bees are inactive. I think it is better to be sure of what you have before you spray, because even organic pesticides can harm beneficial insects so I try to avoid them as much as possible.

If you have something like aphids on the leaves of your cucumber plants, spraying the undersides of the leaves with a sharp stream of water often will knock them off. If they come back, spray them again. After a few days of that, they usually pack up the bags and move someplace else.

I'm going to link the Texas A&M Cucurbit Problem Solver. Maybe you'll see something on it that looks like what you're seeing. If you click on the link, it will take you to the Cucurbit Problem Solver main page. Then, on that page click on the word "leaf" if you want to go to the page that deals with foliage disorders, or click on "insects" to go to that page. Then, on each page, look at the photos to see if you see one that looks similar to what you're seeing. If so, click on the photo and it takes you to more info about what you're seeing.

There are many insects that can and will attack cucumbers, but about the only pests I see on my cucumber plants are cucumber beetles or blister beetles. I think aphids are a good possibility merely because they are so common.

Leaves can curl for many reasons, and the curling of the leaves may or may not be related to whatever you're seeing on the leaves.

Also, you might want to google and look at a photo of lady bug larvae. They are grey and sort of orange (the orange could look yellow I think) and look nothing at all like a lady bug. If that is what you have, they are beneficial insects who are busy gobbling up pests like aphids and mites that are on your cucumber plants. The first time someone sees lady bug larvae, they tend to think they're bad insects but actually they are beneficial ones.


Here is a link that might be useful: TAMU Cucurbit Problem Solver

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 11:57PM
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