Tour Tomorrow (8/2): Sustainable Ways to Fight Wilt on Melons

August 1, 2011

WOOSTER, Ohio -- The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center will hold a free tour tomorrow (8/2) featuring new, non-chemical, sustainable ways to manage cucumber beetles and bacterial wilt on melons.

The program looks at ongoing research on using trap crops and row covers. Trials are under way at OARDC’s Frye Farm near Wooster, and that’s where the tour will take place. It’s part of the 2011 Ohio Sustainable Farm Tour and Workshop Series.

“Both organic and conventional muskmelon growers rank the cucumber beetle/bacterial wilt complex as their No. 1 problem,” said Celeste Welty, an OARDC entomologist, a researcher on the project and one of the speakers on the tour.

Bacterial wilt costs growers of melons and other cucurbit crops more than $13 million a year in the eastern U.S. alone, she noted. Cucumber beetles carry the disease and spread it when they feed on melon plants.

While most growers fight cucumber beetles with insecticides, control is erratic, losses still happen and pollinating insects, such as honeybees, may be harmed, Welty said.

Instead, she and her colleagues Sally Miller and Mary Gardiner are evaluating extended-duration row covers, which keep the beetles from getting to the melon plants; and perimeter trap crops of buttercup squash, which offer the beetles a place to feed before they get to the melons.

“On many sustainable farms, and particularly on organic farms, there’s interest in using any possible tactics other than pesticides, including cultural tactics like trap crops and mechanical tactics such as row covers,” Welty said.

“In systems where chemicals aren’t used, there’s often an increase in the activity of natural enemies that provide biological control of pests,” she added.

Hours are 4-6 p.m. at the Frye Farm on Dover Road/U.S. 250, about 1 mile east of OARDC’s main entrance at 1680 Madison Ave., in Wooster.

For more information, call 614-292-2803 or e-mail welty.1@osu.edu.

Six organizations, including Ohio State University’s Sustainable Agriculture Team, are presenting the Sustainable Farm Tour series.

Get complete details and a list of all 36 tours in the series at http://go.osu.edu/DR3.

Welty, Miller and Gardiner all hold appointments with OARDC and with Ohio State University Extension.

OARDC and OSU Extension are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

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Author(s): 
Kurt Knebusch
Source(s): 
Celeste Welty