The Q&A Archives: Wilting Palace King Cucumbers

Question: I have grown with mixed results, Palace King Cucumbers. I plant them 4 seeds per Hill and use a wire tomatoe trellis to support the plants. They grow perfectly until they get to full size ( about 5 ft ) then while full of blooms and cucumbers they start to wilt, shrivel up and die. The cucumbers produced are perfect. The soil has had Gypsum added. Miracle Grow has been used for fertilizer as well as bagged steer manure that is available at Home Depot.
I read that there is a fungus that grows in the soil, on one of your postings. I have a small area to grow veggies and really can't rotate crops. Any ideas?

Answer: If you feel you have given your cucumber plants all the conditions for good growing--plenty of sunlight, water, and nutrients, and a rich soil with neutral pH, then the wilting could be a disease problem. Bacterial wilt is spread by cucumber beetles; they spread the bacteria to the plant as they feed. To test for bacteria, cut a wilted stem near the base of the plant and squeeze out the sap--look for a milky white substance. Touch the tip of a knife to the ooze, and if as you withdraw the knife it strings out in a fine thread, you have a bacterial infection. There is no chemical control for this type of wilt; the best bet is to control the beetles--or better yet, grow resistant varieties.

There are other fungal diseases which could be the culprit,such as fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt. These diseases are most common when the cucumbers are grown in the same place year after year. They cause the leaves to turn yellow, then brown, then die. Lower leaves are affected first. The fungus overwinters in the soil, so cleaning up crops residue at season's end can help. The best solution is to rotate your crops and plant resistant varieties.

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