Effectiveness of the field application of UV-C for cucumber downy mildew control

N. P. Skinner, M. S. Rea, J. D. Bullough

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There is growing interest in the application of ultraviolet (UV-C) energy to control crop pathogens. In the present study, the efficacies of UV-C treatments for controlling cucumber downy mildew (Pseudoperonospora cubensis) were investigated on a commercial farm in eastern Massachusetts, USA. Controlled doses of UV-C, delivered by a tractor-mounted array of sources, between 120 and 480 J m-2 were applied and compared to conventional fungicide treatments as well as to untreated controls, for each of two consecutive years (2020 and 2021). Visual assessments of foliar disease severity in the trial plots were made several times from planting through the end of productive life. In contrast to the successful control of powdery mildew, the UV-C treatments for controlling cucumber downy mildew were not as successful as conventional fungicides. None of the UV-C treatments affected the overall progression rate of downy mildew once the disease became apparent, although disease onset was delayed slightly compared to untreated controls. This delay may have been due to UV-C induced resistance to infection by the host. Unlike powdery mildews, downy mildew spores from P. cubensis are darkly pigmented, possibly decreasing the efficacy of the UV-C treatments for controlling the disease. DM spores may also be only susceptible to UV exposure prior to encysting in the leaves of the host, thereby perhaps limiting the window of opportunity when UV-C treatments can be effective. Although not the primary focus of this study, the use of reflective mulch appeared to delay disease onset relative to black mulch in fields with significant sunlight exposure, perhaps due to lowering plant stress by maintaining a lower soil temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-435
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Horticultural Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Crop pathogens
  • cucurbits
  • downy mildew and ultraviolet energy


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