Welcome! Please read our information about cucurbit pest management...
What is a Cucurbit?
The cucurbit family is a medium-sized plant family, primarily found in the warmer regions of the world. It is a major family for economically important species, particularly those with edible fruits. Some of the common cucurbit food crops are watermelon, cucumber, squash, pumpkin, and muskmelon.
Cucurbit crops comprise one of the most important groups of vegetable crops in the Midwest and Great Plains. 5,600 cucurbit growers plant 105,000 acres of cucurbits annually, earning $157 million. Nationally, 18,000 cucurbit growers earn $1.23 billion. Cucurbits are also very popular as garden crops. Worldwide, there may be more squashes grown in home gardens than are grown commercially for sale in local or distant markets.
Cucurbit vines are very susceptible to insects and diseases, relative to other crops. Consequently, cucurbit crop losses from pests and insects are high (in rare cases, entire crops are destroyed). Because the vine must be healthy throughout the growing season in order to produce a commercially viable product, control of insects and diseases is critical to bringing a crop to market.
Unfortunately, current methods for pest and insect control are problematic. Some current cucurbit management guides recommend up to 15 pesticide applications per season. This intensive regime poses serious applicator health issues, kills non-target organisms, and endangers the general population through residues on produce and pollution of drinking water. In addition, many of the pesticides and insecticides used on cucurbits face restriction or prohibition by the EPA under the Food Quality Protection Act.
The need for alternative management is critical. Iowa State University, the University of Minnesota, and Colorado State University are cooperating on research designed to validate alternative methods of controlling, reducing or limiting the damage done to cucurbit crops by insects and diseases.
The ISU Cucurbit Pest Management site presents information on various aspects of this field of research. The “Research” section contains information on alternative pest management systems being investigated.
There also are resources available like a large image collection of disease and insect pests common to cucurbit crops, abstracts of research articles relevant to the study, and additional links to cucurbit web pages.
- This site is still in the process of being updated.|
- Updated: Research section
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