Airborne Pseudoperonospora cubensis sporangia were collected 0.5 m above the ground from May to late September or early October 2010 and 2011 in unsprayed cucumber (Cucumis sativus) fields in Benton Harbor and Frankenmuth, MI. Cucumber downy mildew incidence and severity were evaluated weekly within each field from June until September or October. The first airborne sporangium was detected before the crop was planted for each site-year. The greatest numbers of airborne sporangia were detected when moderate to high disease severity (≥5% symptomatic leaf area) was detected within the field. Fewer airborne sporangia were present with low disease severity (<5% symptomatic leaf area), and even fewer were detected prior to planting the cucumber crop. The number of airborne sporangia detected, time post planting, planting number (first versus second versus third planting), temperature, and leaf wetness were positively associated and solar radiation was negatively associated with disease occurrence for at least one site-year. Michigan growers currently use an aggressive, calendar-based fungicide program to manage cucumber downy mildew. Because airborne sporangium concentrations were one of the most important factors identified in this study, the current fungicide recommendation of decreasing the spray interval following disease detection in an area is warranted.
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