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Cantaloupe help please

Posted by slowpoke_gardener 6/7 (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 5, 12 at 10:44

My two cantalope plants started dying, almost over night. I did see two squash bugs but expect there must be something else to look for.

Thanks for any advice.

Larry
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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Cantaloupe help please

Don't throw things at me, Larry, when I offer these words of wisdom: it happens. Cantaloupes in general tend to be very disease-prone, often contracting powdery mildew, downy mildew and other diseases. Treating the plants with a fungicide approved for use on edible crops, like Daconil, Serenade or GreenCure, may help slow down the spread of the fungal diseases once they attack. As with all other veggie garden plants prone to fungal infections, it is easier to prevent the diseases from Day One by spraying with a fungicide at 10-14 day intervals, than it is to stop disease once it already has started.

Also, many cucurbit diseases are spread by cucumber beetles and squash bugs and can affect your melons, so controlling the pests (easier said than done) helps prevent the spread of disease.

Furthermore, cantaloupes are not tolerant of nematodes so that could be the problem if they are in the area where you've had nematode issues in the past.

You might check the undersides of the plants leaves for aphids. When aphids feed on the foliage of cantaloupes (which actually are muskmelons), their feeding can cause the leaves to curl up and to show distorted growth.

My gut feeling the minute I saw the words 'cantaloupe help please' and before I even saw the photo was that it likely was a fungal issue. It is hard to tell from the photo since it was taken from a distance, but in my garden when the cantaloupes get sick, it almost always is powdery mildew, which is favored by dry hot weather. Look at your leaves and if you see a white powdery residue on the leaves or stems, that is powdery mildew. Treating with a fungicide ASAP and repeating it as often as the label allows (I think it will say every 7-10 days or every 10-14 days depending on the fungicide you use) should save the plants.

If you look at the leaves and see leaf spotting that is yellow to brown, somewhat irregularly shaped and is on the upper/top portion of the leaves, that likely is downy mildew. Check to see if the downy mildew is originating at the crown of the plant and moving outwards because that is its usual mode of operation. If you have been having moisture and humidity, then you'd be more likely to see downy mildew than powdery mildew. However, I've seen both downy mildew and powdery mildew pop up at almost the same time some years, usually when hot wet weather follows hot dry weather.

If you chose to spray with a fungicide, spray all your cucurbit plants (cukes, squash, melons, etc.) because they're prone to the same diseases and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I hope you can nip this issue in the bud and save the plants because your photo last week showed some fine melons developing and I hope you'll be able to harvest them and enjoy them once they're mature.

Good luck,

Dawn


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

Dawn,

Thanks, I will spray today. This is the second time in my life that I tried to grow melons, the first was a flop also.

Larry


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

Larry,

You're welcome. It isn't you--it is them! They are prone to diseases. Some years I get a great crop, some years I get plants that eventually die after producing nothing but disease. In my garden, watermelons seem less disease-prone than muskmelons, so in recent years I've planted more watermelons than cantaloupes, although we love to eat them both.

Now I am paranoid about my melons so I am going to run outside and look at their leaves. It certainly has been hot enough, with alternating dry and wet periods, to have melons diseases popping up. I don't know what anyone else is seeing, but I have got cucumber beetles all over everywhere.

Dawn


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

Dawn,

I went out and took some more pictures, mainly in hopes to help someone else. Maybe they can notice damage before it gets to the stage of mine.

I did not see any signs of mildew, but I did see small grasshoppers, most of the leaves were eaten in the same manner and I saw a bug that looked like it was sucking in one of the cantaloupe leaves. I will not downsize the bug picture for fear that it can not be blown up enough to recognize the bug.

I have seen some damage on my cucumber leaves that I was calling spidermite damage,but that may not be the case. They all may be connected.

This is all in my south garden. I have not seen any nematode damage there.

!st picture of bug.

2nd picture of leaves eaten.

3rd picture is of cucumber leaves that were about 20' from cantaloupe.

Larry

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RE: Cantaloupe help please

Dawn, I went out yesterday to find most of the foliage on my Spineless Beauty Zucchini dying. I removed all the damaged foliage, which was most of it, leaving only 2 or 3 leaves per plant (3 plants).

It seems that what I originally thought to be a beautiful silvery mottling of the foliage, was actually mildew, either powdery or downy - I don't know which. I did some research to find out if Spineless Beauty displayed a silvery mottling of the leaves, and duh, no it doesn't. I have been getting zukes, though.

Is this going to ultimately kill the plant? I do have Spotted Cucumber bugs - no squash bugs.....yet - and I know they are vectors. But I have very few of them so far. No aphids that I can detect.

Treat the same as you advised Larry for muskmelons?

Susan


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

Larry, Did that insect in your photo have wings? I am torn between thinking it is a young leafhopper versus thinking it is melon fly or something similar.

Susan, I am sorry to hear about your Spineless Beauty. Yes, PM can kill cucurbits, though you often can save the plants if you spray with a fungicide at the first sign of the PM. Because the PM tricked you into thinking it was the normal silvery mottling seen on the leaves of some cucurbits and you didn't spray when you first noticed it, you might lose the plant.

There are two types of fungicides that gardeners can use.

One is a preventive fungicide that essentially coats the foliage and thereby denies the PM a place to attach itself and start growing. In order for the preventive fungicides to be effective, they need to be used from Day One as soon as you have a plant with true leaves, and they need to be sprayed regularly according to package directions. Daconil is an example of this type of fungicide.

The other type of fungicide is an eradicant that kills or at least controls PM after it has started. These products sometimes work and sometimes not. With PM on squash, organic fungicides like milk often work on the PM. The standard recommendation is to spray the affected plant about once every 5-7 days with a solution that is 10% milk/90% water. Some people use a 50/50 mix of milk and water.

You also could use neem oil which has fungicidal properties, a summerweight horticultural oil (not the heavier dormant oil used in winter), jojoba oil, a baking soda/water mix or one of the organic fungicides like wettable sulphur, Serenade or GreenCure.

I am sure there are chemical fungicides that would work, but since I don't use them, I don't know their names.

If it was my plant, I'd spray it in an attempt to save it, but at the same time I'd start a couple of seeds of replacement plants in a paper cup or small pot so that I'd have a backup plant coming along in case the squash plant cannot be saved.

If you have other cucurbit plants nearby, you might want to spray them with a preventive fungicide to keep the disease from spreading to them. There are different forms of powdery mildew and the one that affects squash affects all cucurbits, although modern breeding has given us a few cucurbits with some level of tolerance of PM. I don't know if those varieties are available to home gardeners.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Squash Pests and Diseases


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

Dawn,

I dont know about the insect. I could only see a speck on the leaf. I used the zoom on the camera to get the close-up. Most insects I cant see, they fly or hop away before I get within bifocal range.

I think the plants look better now. I watered and sprayed with Daconil.

Larry


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

I'm glad the plants look better.

I don't remember if I ever have linked the Cucurbit Problem Solver page from TAMU here before,though I know several of us have linked the Tomato Problem Solver. So, I'm just going to link it in this thread so someone else who finds this thread via a Search will see the Problem Solver.

Dawn

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


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

Boy, did it trick me. I thought I had the most beautiful, big Zucchini foliage for miles around! I'll probably just start some over. This weather can't be helping that issue either.

Well, I AM glad I learned something about PM on cucurbits. It sure did not look like the PM I get on my ornamentals at all.

Larry, I'm sending you "high hopes" for your Canteloupe!

Susan


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RE: Perhaps Not Mildew?

Dawn, I'm attaching a blog page of someone who shows phots of his zucchini plant with the silvery-mottled foliage that is identical to what mine was like. If it was actually healthy foliage, what caused most of my leaves to turn and crinkly and look all but dead? Any ideas?

Susan

Here is a link that might be useful: Zucchini Leaves Like Mine


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

If your foliage had that exact pattern of mottling on the foliage, then that is the normal silvery mottling that some squash plants naturally have.

I've never grown Spineless Beauty so don't know what it is prone to, in terms of diseases, but there's a long list of squash diseases and pests that can kill squash plants.

Did all the foliage turn crinkly at once? In 1 or 2 days? Literally overnight? Or did it progress day by day?

I'd always, always suspect SVBs first when a squash plant dies unexpectedly. Usually if that is the case, you'll see frass somewhere on the stem near the ground.

Did you go to the Cucurbit Problem Solver I linked above and look at the foliage photos to see if any of them resemble what yours looked like before they died? It is hard to diagnose a plant disease by looking at photos because any photo of a sick plant shows us that plant at one specific moment in time. When it is your plant and you look at it daily, though, you have seen it go through the changes that indicated it was sick or dying, so you might see a photo on the Cucurbit Problem Solver that makes you say "aha! my plant looked just like that 3 days before it died" or whatever. I'd suggest looking at those photos and seeing if anything looks familiar.

In Oklahoma, there are so many things that can kill a squash plant, it probably would be easier to list the plant diseases that do not affect squash. On the Vegetable MD online website, there's great photos of plants with some squash diseases, including bacterial wilt. I think BW might be what got yours, just based on knowing you had a lot of rain recently.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vegetablemdonline-bacterial wilt of cucurbits


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

......still looking. I did go to that site before I posted here and was not able to "exactly" ID the problem. You are right about ID'ing issues at a specific moment in time. I've used, used, and used various websites to ID problems with many plants, including ornamentals, and leave them confused so often that I hate to even go there many times. Some issues will appear differently or with variations that my plants don't have and vice versa. It's kind of exasperating.

I immediately thought of SVBs but cannot find the symptoms of a borer at all, e.g., hole in the stem, sawdust-like appearance around an entry point, frass, etc. I will just have to keep looking at my plants and see what develops.

I didn't use the foil trick, but the squash are in the SunLeaves bags, and I had enough bag at the top, I folded them over to cover the stems, hoping that might help deter them a bit, too.

I may have let the plants get too dry also. Could that cause it?

Susan


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

From years of experience at letting squash get too dry during the dog days of summer, I find it hard to imagine that letting one get too dry once or twice would kill a plant that quickly. When my squash plants get too dry, they might wilt and have a leaf yellow and look kind of pathetic but I've never seen them get so dry that they died quickly without me having a chance to try to save them. I am not saying it cannot happen, just that when they are grown in the ground, I never see that happen. Last year my plants in the ground went a month with no irrigation and maybe a quarter-inch or half-inch of rainfall and they didn't die. However, yours are in containers, so it is hard to say how long they could handle being too dry. The plants in the ground can stretch their roots and search for water. The plants in containers can not since they are limited to the soil-less mix in the container.. As a long-time gardener, I am sure you know that every plant has a certain wilt point beyond which it can not recover, so if yours reached that wilt point before you discovered the plant was too dry and watered it, then being too dry could have killed it.

I still think it is a pest or disease problem. There are so very many diseases that will get them, and often it is bacterial wilt which is vectored by insects. If the plant is dead, you can slice open the stem to look for any evidence of SVBs. When I lose a squash plant to a disease, it is almost always bacterial wilt. When I lose one to disease, it is always SVBs, not squash bugs. Your mileage may vary.

You can do whatever you wish to your squash stems, and the SVBs will find a way around it, sooner or later, in 99.9999% of the cases. They are that good at what they do. They have to be, since it is all about survival for them. I don't care what you wrap them in, what you bury stems under, etc. there is no way that you can give the squash plants 100% protection from SVBs in our climate, short of raising them in a high tunnel or under floating row covers. Even when you do that, you have to take extraordinary precautions to keep the SVBs out of the high tunnel or to exclude them from the low tunnels. There's too many SVBs, our season for them is very long, and they are remarkably good at seeking out, finding and destroying squash plants. I have been able to keep squash plants alive until August some years by wrapping stems, but other years they hit the plants around the third week of June and the wrapped stem does not deter them since they just enter the main stem higher up where it is not wrapped or the egg is laid on a leaf and the tiny cats tunnel into the stem right where the leaf petiole attachs to the stem.

Bacterial wilt and squash wilt seem like they hit like a bolt from the blue, but if you observe your plants carefully, day in and day out, you sometimes realize that the plant had started to discolor slightly and look a little less happy a week or two before it wilted, browned and died. Sometimes you only realize that in hindsight, but other times you say it happening right in front of your eyes, and you sigh and shrug and say "oh well" because you know it has BW and you know it is just a matter of time before the plant dies. From infection to death might take as long as 2 weeks. Squash plants are susceptible to other diseases too including fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt and phytopthora root rot. My theory is that this is why seed packets contain 20 or 30 or more seeds--so you can be raising replacement plants all along as you're waiting for disease or SVBs to kill the current ones. Most summer squash plants don't live long enough to die of old age.

For anyone reading this who wonders how commercial growers raise squash successfully while we home gardeners have so much trouble with squash bugs, SVBs and diseases, they have access to all kinds of heavy-duty fungicides and pesticides that are not available to home gardeners, and often those are systemic which is why they work so well.

Dawn


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

I have been finding squash bug eggs on a patty pan squash and it is beginning to yellow a little although I have only picked one squash from it. I have two kinds of zucchini growing next to it and the bugs haven't bothered them at all (so far).

I had a few more of the tiny black bugs swarming last night, but not like the first night. I turned on the hose and tried to knock them out of the air, but that didn't seem to work. Of course I don't know if this was a new group or just those that were able to fly again after that jet of water I sprayed on the tomato plants. No change in the plants so far.


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

I don't have the SBs yet. I had been checking the back of the leaves for eggs. I'm pretty good an ID'ing eggs, lol!

I am thinking it probably is the Bacterial Wilt, Dawn. I don't know if it is attributable to the amount of rain recently, or an insect. I do check my foliage on a daily basis. If I'm not out working, I make at least 2 tours a day to check plants, especially the veggies. Ornamentals seem to be much better at surviving disease and/or pests.

I found 2 hornworms on the tomatos and a few beet armyworms, and I may have some early blight. I just prune the diseased foliage and remove the insects. I have been especially afraid that the hail damage and significant pruning would leave them open to disease and insect attack. So, they are being closely watched.

Having not grown squash before, I may have miseed the early onset of the BW, thinking the foliage was just old and dying. And, the next thing I knew it was a whole lotta leaves dying. The plants aren't complely dead, but some squash fruit is small and yellowing. I removed those. New leaves look green, but are dying at the mid-range now. Flowers also looking distorted and dying.

I am about ready to just trash these plants and start some new. Is there a good time to make a projection when the SVBs have moved on, or should I just go ahead and plant and hope for the best?

Thanks for all the help. At least the cukes are looking great!

Susan


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

With the SVBs, it can vary a bit from year to year, and there is not always necessarily a second generation. I'm about 100 miles south of you and I normally see the first SVB damage in late June, but sometimes in late May. I didn't have any last year, so they may be late to find me this year if they're having to hatch someplace else and travel here. The second generation usually shows up in August. One way to defeat them with your late planting is to sow the seeds of summer squash in late July and keep the plants covered with floating row cover until they bloom. By the time the plants are blooming, the second generation may already be there, but often the row cover has excluded any that were around and they've moved off elsewhere. Thus, even when you uncover the plants, they SVBs may not find them. It's a risk of course and if SVBs find them, they may kill them, but so is a lot of the other stuff we Okie gardeners plant. Sometimes the pests win, sometimes we do.

And it wouldn't really have mattered if you'd noticed the BW developing because once it hits, there's nothing you can do except start seeds for replacement plants. When I see the initial foliar discoloration that is an early sign of BW, I shrug and start some seeds. The BW might not get the plant that week, but it will get it within another week or so. Sometimes the plant is fine one day and dead the next and I always wonder if I missed the signs of BW or if it just was that fast.

Dawn


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

I sprayed with Daconil as Dawn suggested on the 5th. One of my two plants was too far gone to save.

Below is a picture of three cantaloupes I picked today along with my first Brandy Boy tomato. The cantaloupes are small, the tomato is ugly but of fair size.

Dawn, thanks for the advice, I have more cantaloupes to pick in a few days along with more Brandy Boys.

Larry

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RE: Cantaloupe help please

Larry the Brandyboy and the melons look good. I'm picking a few small to mid size tomatoes but nothing larger yet. The heat hit yesterday and supposed to hang around a while. Hopefully I will have some fruit set show up from the 4-5 cooler days we enjoyed. The plants are looking good and really blooming now. Just got to really cranking in time for the heat to hit. Can't complain though as I've been enjoying some tomatoes now for over 6 weeks. And usually don't have anything till July. I just planted my melons. I usually don't grow them but growing these for my BIL and his "Special" brother. They both love them. I planted 2 varieties from Burrell Seeds in Rocky Ford,CO. They are varieties developed for this area. One is powdery mildew resistant. I will be traveling through there tomorrow. Heading to Pueblo for a day and a half of training. Doesn't sound like it will be "Cool, Colorful Colorado" while I'm there. Jay


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

Larry,

I'm glad the Daconil was able to keep the disease from taking the one plant even though you lost the other. The tomato and melons look superb....just so beautiful to look at and I hope they taste as great as they look. A lot of the best-tasting open-pollinated tomatoes are "ugly" but who cares? They have the flavor to make up for it.

Jay,

You've got an awesome early harvest and I think that is so wonderful! All those weeks of watching that weather and protecting those plants from the elements surely did pay off.

My tomato plants are still blooming and setting fruit which is a nice change because the last two years it got too hot too early and they had shut down fruit set for the most part by now. Our temps our hanging right around 90/92 and 70/72 so they are just barely cool enough for most varieties to continue setting, and they are supposed to stay there for a few more days before it heats up by the time the weekend arrives.

I've been in the kitchen a lot today working on tomato preservation, and I'm about to go out to the garden and pick tomatoes again, so tomorrow I can wake up and do it all over again.

Have a safe trip to Pueblo. It might not be cool, but you might be seeing some different colors....some fiery ones. I feel for all those folks affected by those massive wildfires, and particularly for those who've lost their homes and all their personal property.

Dawn


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

Dawn,
Had a safe and quick trip to Pueblo and back. Yesterday was 107 and the instructor picked from 2 to 4 for us to be outside after being inside till then. About baked all of us. In the open with no shade, ect. Today was very nice. Around 80 for a high today. I got home around 9 this evening. With the north wind that moved in over night it was real smoky today. Stirred my allergies up big time. I feel for the people affected. That is all that in on the news. In one area some older citizens that have lived there their whole lives refused to leave. One old man said if the fire got too close he would go to the center of his lake like he always has. Went down the Arkansas River walk last night with 2 coworkers. It is beautiful. Has pretty flower beds along the whole walk. Saw some beautiful cabbage growing along the canals for the farmers markets. Didn't notice much decrease in any crop besides onions. With Colorado Springs and Denver buying up so much of the water rights they say it is hard to get enough water to grow onions anymore. The fields are some pretty and most are weed free. Jay


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

Jay, It sounds like it was a great trip. Well, except for that part about baking in the heat. I've heard of Baked Alaska, baked potatoes and baked chicken, but Baked Jay? C'mon now, who needs shade when you can have the pleasure of slowly roasting in full sun in temperatures up to 107 degrees? Look at it this way: the rest of your summer should feel pretty cool by comparison.

I'm allergic to smoke too. The worst year for me was 2005/2006 when the smoke in the air was so heavy here for such prolonged periods that my eyes watered heavily all the time and that caused big red patches on my skin beneath my eyes and on my cheeks. People thought I'd been burned in a fire, but it was just a side effect of constant smoke irritation.

I wish people would leave when wildfire is in their area, unless they've waited so late that it is then unsafe to leave. Even if they walk out into the lake, the superheated air, the ash and other particulates in the air, and the smoke can be very hard on people's bodies.

I bet the walk along the river was really spectacular. It is sad that the guys who can most afford the water rights are gobbling them up. I'd rather have fresh, local onions than those that have been transported 500, 1000 or 1500 or more miles. How much longer will we use our expensive petroleum energy to move food around the country and around the world like that? There's likely always been battles over water rights and always will be, but it seems like the folks with the bucks always get the water and squeeze the little guys out of business.

I'm about to go link today's U S Drought Monitor on a thread. It sure isn't looking good for your county. I think y'all are rapidly falling back into the worst drought conditions again. I guess your rainfall has stopped?

Dawn


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RE: Cantaloupe help please

Dawn we are still in D2 here which I feel is fairly accurate. I just looked at the Monitor and I don't agree with it at all. I just traveled 210 miles one way from my house NW through SE CO to Pueblo. The first 120 miles from my house conditions look very similar to here. Not much different. Still green but not growing much and needing moisture. At around 120 miles you see a rapid drop off and within a matter or 15 miles it looks like winter. The cattle don't look as good and it appears they are still feeding them just like in the winter. If you look at the map they show that area in better shape than us. From what I saw and those I talked to that isn't the case. With 5-7 days of 100 degrees or more possible starting Sat it will change in a hurry though. They are saying 6-7 days out there will be a chance of rain. With better chances by July first.Yes we need rain. And the amounts we have received have dropped off but haven't shut off yet. We have missed some also. But we are so much better than we have been the last 4 years. The grass and weeds are still green and so far aren't showing any signs of turning brown although I expect some by the end of next week if we don't get another drink. I do agree that some of the area south of us in the OK Panhandle is drier than us. The Liberal area is about the same as we are. It is odd they waited so long 2-3 years ago to ever make any changes and now they are jumping back and forth. From LaJunta on it is very dry. Although the Monitor doesn't show it. The next week will determine a lot of how my garden will fare this summer I feel. I dug about half of my garlic tonight. I feel I had some irregular water issue with my soaker hoses under the mulch. Some varieties has a wide range is sizes. I discovered about 2 weeks ago I had some spots a lot drier than other. I'm going to rethink how I water it next year. I have some real nice bulbs. Some varieties surprised me. Some are the largest I've raised. And then a few varieties that have always done well was very irregular with several smaller bulbs. The seeds I planted last Sunday and covered with mulch and soaked well on Monday evening were peaking through when I returned. Have one okra variety that only one is showing in a ten foot row. I pulled most of the mulch back so the seedlings can push through. I hope rain is on the rain for all of us needing it. I still have a good feeling about this summer. From the long range I feel there is a good chance that we will continue to at least receive some moisture. Jay


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