The Q&A Archives: cucumbers died early

Question: This year I planted regular and seedless cucumbers on my fence. The area is in shade in the morning and full sun in the afternoon. The plants the plants were in good health to adult and bared some fruit. Then they dried up. What is the problem?

Answer: It sounds suspiciously like bacterial wilt. The causal bacterium is spread primarily by the striped cucumber beetle, and the spotted cucumber beetle.

Less than one week after a deep feeding wound is made by a bacterially-infested cucumber beetle, dull green patches can appear on the damaged leaf. Entire leaves and petioles then wilt, sometimes so rapidly the initial dullness goes unnoticed. Wilt progresses through lateral shoots and eventually affects the entire plant. Fruits of an infected plant may be wilted, small, poorly shaped and poorly flavored. Cucumbers and muskmelons are affected most severely. The entire vine may wilt within two weeks after infection.

The most effective disease control is prompt elimination of cucumber beetles. Small plantings can be protected from the cucumber beetle by screening. Cheesecloth can be used if the edges are weighted to prevent beetles from crawling under the covering and feeding.

Right now, remove and destroy any infected vines. In the fall remove and destroy all crop refuse to reduce other cucurbit diseases and to reduce sites for beetle hibernation.

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