Optimizing Row Covers and Perimeter Trap Crops for Cucurbit Pest Management

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $174,462.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Mark Gleason
Iowa State University
Dr. Jean Batzer
Iowa State University

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Fruits: melons


  • Crop Production: catch crops, organic fertilizers
  • Pest Management: chemical control, cultural control, row covers (for pests), trap crops
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: organic matter

    Proposal abstract:

    This 2-year project will enable cucurbit growers to manage bacterial wilt more effectively. Bacterial wilt cuts yield of muskmelon and cucumber by as much as 80%, and also damages pumpkin and squash. Conventional control is inconsistent and environmentally hazardous, but organic management practices often fail. Growers urgently need more reliable, profitable methods. Two IPM strategies – extended-duration row covers (EDRC) and perimeter trap cropping (PTC) - have controlled bacterial wilt in preliminary trials, but these results need to be verified and NC Region growers need to learn how to use the methods. Field experiments and on-farm trials on muskmelon in Iowa and Ohio will yield guidelines for using EDRC and PTC cost effectively. We anticipate that 1) extending the row-covered period 10 days past the start of bloom (EDRC) will enable organic growers to effectively suppress bacterial wilt all season, 2) PTC will enable conventional growers to cut insecticide use by 50% while controlling bacterial wilt, and 3) EDRC will enhance profits for organic growers and PTC will be more profitable than conventional insecticide-based management. The primary audience is 12,000 NC Region commercial cucurbit growers. Outputs include 16 on-farm trials, 2 research articles (200 readers each), 4 field days (total attendance: 250), 2 webinars (360 participants), 2 trade journal articles, project website (2,500 hits annually), 2 extension bulletins (2,000 hits annually), and 4 presentations at grower meetings (total attendance: 300). Short-term outcomes: a) 300 NC Region growers learn how to use row covers and perimeter trap crops more effectively; and b) 200 are more willing to use these tactics. The intermediate-term goal is that 115 growers plan to try one or both of the new tactics.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The goal of this project is to enable cucurbit growers to control bacterial wilt more effectively and with fewer insecticide applications.

    Objectives to achieve this goal include:

    1. Assess ability of a) perimeter trap cropping, and b) extended-duration row covers, to suppress bacterial wilt and deliver acceptable yield in muskmelon.

    2. Calculate costs and profits of applying perimeter trap cropping in conventional muskmelon production, and extended-duration row covers in organic production.

    3. Communicate the findings to cucurbit growers throughout the North Central Region by means of on-farm demonstration trials, field days, webinars, a project website, trade journal articles, and regional meeting presentations.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.