Experiments in preventing cucumber wilt
In an attempt to prevent cucumber wilt I tried two methods this year. First I sprayed a kaolin clay mixture on the leaves of the plants and second I covered the plants with light agricultural cloth.
Kaolin - seemed to work but was very labor intensive - one needs to respray every few days and after every rain storm. The cucumber beetles infected the plants by mid season but not before a nice harvest.
Covers - used raised beds and a parthenocopic variety - Diva (does not need to be pollinated by bees.)This actually worked extremely well. One needs to find a way to water the plants - I used a timer and drip tape. It also seems to help to elevate the cloth above the plants - I used 1/2 inch PVC pipe. This system worked well until early August when I had a major infestation with aphids. The aphids did not attack the uncovered plants so I have to assume that covering prevented aphid predators access to the plants. By the way, for cloth I used was agribon-15 which can be purchased fairly cheaply, allows 90% light transmission, minimal heat retention, and weighs half an ounce per square yard.
The cover system seems to be the most useable. I ended up with lots of cucumbers from early June til mid august. I think with a few adjustments the system can work full season. I had plenty of cucumber beetles in the area but they couldn't get to the cucumbers. Once I removed the covers due to the aphids the beetle attacked and the wilt appeared. This year will add lady bugs under the covers if I see aphids.
I'd enjoy hearing comments, improvements, suggestions, etc.