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Fighting bacterial wilt with row covers PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Fighting bacterial wilt with row covers. Erika Saalau and Mark L. Gleason Plant Pathology Department Iowa State University. Transplanted in May-June. Muskmelons. First harvest by August. Early muskmelons = premium prices. Cucumber beetles. Adult beetles overwinter near fields

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Fighting bacterial wilt with row covers

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Fighting bacterial wilt with row covers

Erika Saalau and Mark L. Gleason

Plant Pathology Department

Iowa State University

Transplanted in May-June


  • First harvest by August

  • Early muskmelons = premium prices

Cucumber beetles

Adult beetles overwinter near fields

Become active in May

Look for young cucurbits

Feed, reproduce, lay eggs

Next generation emerges in fields

Bacterial wilt of cucurbits

Caused by Erwinia tracheiphila

Transmitted by cucumber beetles

Plants wilt and die

Overwintering adults

Cucurbit seedlings


Acquire bacteria

Beetles reproduce


How do plants become infected with the disease?


When should I protect my plants?


Highest risk period= early beetles


Managing beetles!!!


Trap crops

Baited traps

Row covers

Why row covers?

  • Protect from frost and extreme weather conditions

  • Increase earliness and yield

  • Prevent insect damage

  • Protect from bacterial wilt!!!

How do they work?

What about pollination?

Timing of removal

Conventional removal= flowering

Could row covers stay on a bit longer?

Timing of removal

  • Open row cover ends for pollinators

  • Add bumblebees

  • Remove row covers 10 days after flowering

ISU field trials:

  • Plants were covered from transplant

  • No insecticides were applied!

At flowering:

No Row Cover

Open ends

Remove covers at flowering

No Row Cover

Add bumblebees

Bacterial wilt incidence

Row covers removed @ anthesis

No row covers

Delayed-removal row covers

Delayed row cover removal

Delaying removal by 10 days can provide season-long protection against bacterial wilt.

This strategy can reduce the need for insecticides.

Delayed planting

No row covers

Row covers

Late planting

All row cover treatments suppressed bacterial wilt


No beetles!


No disease

Are they affordable?

Are they affordable?


RC removed at bloom

Delayed RC

Delayed RC

RC removed at bloom


Take-home points

Sporadic disease in the Midwest

Delayed-removal strategy may provide consistent returns.

Do you feel lucky?

Take-home points

Cost effectiveness is affected by how often bacterial wilt outbreaks occur.

Delayed-removal strategy was advantageous when wilt occurred ≥ 50% of the growing seasons.

Current projects

USDA's Organic Research and Extension

Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Iowa

Other options

Thank you!

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