Crop Protection In Unusual Weather

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Scouting In Unusual Weather

With the unusual weather patterns — warm or cold — it will be necessary for growers to stay on top of scouting. Mike Orzolek, a professor of vegetable crops at Pennsylvania State University, suggests scouting once or twice a week for any sign of insects, weeds, or disease.  

Because this year is so different from recent years, Orzolek says growers should scout within the first 24 to 72 hours of putting transplants in the ground. For example, he says cucumber beetles could already be in the field and if the grower isn’t vigilant in his scouting, he could see wilting of plants, as a result of beetle feeding.

 “An infestation can occur overnight reinforcing the need for scouting twice a week,” he says. To control this pest, Orzolek tells growers to use 0.5 ounce/square yard floating row cover immediately after seeding or transplanting to keep cucumber beetles from feeding on young seedlings or transplants.

“Planting one or two rows of a trap crop, such as summer squash, next to the cucurbit crop will attract the cucumber beetles to the summer squash and away from cantaloupes, watermelon, pumpkin, and cucumber,” he adds.

On top of scouting, Orzolek hones in on the importance of taking notes on what is found in the field. The notes will be a good reference tool as growers look back to see what occurred in previous years, he adds.

Environmental conditions also must be taken into consideration. “For example,” says Orzolek, “if it is dry and warm, is the plant getting enough moisture? Is there anything that can be done to enhance the growth of the plant, such as fertilizer and water?”

If a problem is suspected, Orzolek encourages growers to take a picture of the plant and email that photo to an Extension agent. “A visual is much better than having something described over the phone,” he concludes. “Plus, with a photo, often we can make a good diagnosis.”

Rosemary Gordon is editor of American Vegetable Grower, a Meister Media Worldwide publication.

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