Disease Resistance in Cucumbers

sconticut(6b)December 10, 2008

I love growing cucumbers in my coastal MA, raised bed garden each year. I love looking at them. I love eating them. Although I choose the most disease resistant varieties, as described in the catalogs, I still have the same sad experience each growing season. I have have a burst of healthy growth, a wonderful early crop of slicers, and then disease sets in. Wilt, Mosaic, Mildew, etc. Catalog recommendations may be great but I would like to solicit local knowledge about what does best in SE MA. What varieties have you found to be successful over a long season here in MA? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated before I put out my seed orders for the upcoming growing season.

Thank you.

Fairhaven, MA

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Most any variety will suffer disease problems if conditions are right but cultural controls in the growing area and the judicious use of fungicides can usually control or even prevent the problems associated with the more common cuke diseases.

Do you have objections to using chemical controls to prevent the fungal problems? A good preventative fungicide spray program from day of planting works well. But while you can't control the weather in your humid zone, you can eliminate any drainage problems in the surrounding area, use control and trap crops for insect vectors, avoid planting near areas where water collects in rainy periods, prevent bacterial wilt by controlling the cucumber beetles with pesticides (organic ones are available), etc.

It won't solve all your problems but can reduce them. You might also want to explore some of the organic disease controls available if you don't want to use Daconil and other fungicides.

And succession planting will also help. Cukes aren't a season-long crop in many parts of the country anyway, but staggered plantings can make them work as if they are. ;)

Good luck.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 10:20PM
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Trellising/training-up your cukes and getting them off the ground might help fend off some of those problems (or at least lessen them).

It's a bit more work, but it's a lot easier to keep clean and harvest the plants.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 3:52AM
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Dave & nc-crn give good advice. I haven't grown many varieties. I have grown Armenian, Marketmore 76, County Fair and Space Master. Out of those, Marketmore 76 had the best disease resistance and was the best producer followed by the Armenian cucumbers. Lots of people love County Fair, but it did not live up to it's reputation for me. Space Master was also disappointing.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 7:20AM
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Thank you all for responses to my query on cukes. To Digdirt, I am a friend of chlorthalonil and use it regularly on my tomatoes and zukes and the results has been greatly improved production. I think, perhaps, I have not been aggressive enough with fungicides on my cukes.
I have just finished Jeff Gillman's book and agree that chemicals are chemicals, "organic" or otherwise. Yes I am aware of the the differences and try to employ the best elements of Organic Gardening when it is appropriate and effective. I also have well drained soil growing all my veggies in 4X8' beds and trellis my cukes on netting six feet high. I am just going to have to be a bit more agressive in addressing all of your suggestions.

Thank you very much, friends.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 8:31PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

The most destructive disease I have had on cucumbers is bacterial wilt. It wipes out the plants shortly after they start bearing fruit. Since it is spread by striped cucumber beetles, the beetles must be controlled. And since the beetles attack soon after emergence of the plants, they must be controlled from the very start. In fact, the seed leaves have a potent amount of the chemical which attracts the beetles. I'm thinking of using floating row cover until the plants get a good head start.

Anney from Georgia has posted on this forum about her very interesting work developing cucumber beetle traps. Search on "cucumber trap".

With fungicides, the key word is "preventative". Don't wait for symptoms to appear. Apply the fungicides from the start on a regular basis. I find that a pain, however. I don't have the diligence it requires. Maybe plastic mulch to prevent splashing of soil onto the leaves would help. I don't know.


Here is a link that might be useful: Cucumber Diseases

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 4:39PM
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oh we hate it when we have to start buying cucumbers,,,i think that the staggering advice might help you out, we have the luxury of lots of room so we plant in different spots about 4 times (starting the first inside) always trying to stretch out the final planting...the last ones go in the tomato sheds(have to keep the rain off here)usually can get into oct. depending on the fall. had good luck with speedway and marketmore 76 this year, have taken to growing them over heavy landscape fabric or trellis,,,,the variety that did really impress me was "cool breeze" a freind gave me a package to start for him,, ofcourse i kept a few of the plants just for the heck of it, I really did not take them serious and figured them as a novelty veggy, not worth the time and space,,,well the little guys were ripe earliest even with our record long cold spring,,, and they kept producing right through the summer,,,they are small but great flavour, lots on every plant and never seemed to get bitter no matter how fat they got, we did coax a few up to the 6 inch mark in length but most were 4 inch, with normal cuke girth, a pleasant discovery for this climate. hope i can get a few this year. westcoastseeds.com carried them last year.
cuke on

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 7:36PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I concur with Jimster's sound advice. Floating row covers, laid over the ground immediately after planting, will give the plants a fighting chance. If Spring rainfall is frequent, prop the cover up with wire hoops to keep it from touching the foliage. Remove the cover when the plants begin to bloom, at which time you can erect the trellis & train the vines to it.

When you remove the cover, watch for the first signs of cucumber beetles, and attack them aggressively. They usually group together in numbers, so I have had good luck killing them with a spray bottle at that time, using a soap/oil/sugar solution. I sometimes get a little leaf burn with this solution, but the area sprayed is quite small... nice of the little buggers to bunch together for me. ;-)

I have had excellent results with an open-pollinated slicer, "WI 5207", which I have reported about on other threads. It is highly disease resistant, as good as most hybrids. I only lose a couple plants each year, vice 50% or more for other varieties. A New England gardener with whom I traded last year reported great results.

WI 5207 cucumbers, on a trellis last summer

As you can see, it is a fairly strong climber. It is also parthenocarpic, meaning it will set cukes without bees. These cukes will be completely seedless. Theoretically, this means you could grow it completely covered all summer... but I haven't tried it. If allowed to pollinate openly, they will set seed, but still less than most large slicers. The flavor is really special, completely bitter-free. I'd be happy to send you seed for a SASE... contact me via my member page if interested.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 1:18AM
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