Powdery mildew is a common and destructive disease that has left many crops damaged and destroyed. Identified by powdery patches of gray or white located on the stems and leaves of plants, powdery mildew is a fungus that is truly destructive if not targeted immediately. Controlling powdery mildew outbreaks is the key to keeping harvests healthy and thriving. New research, however, may be a saving grace for cucumbers throughout the world who have been damaged and destroyed by the effects of the powdery mildew disease. Researchers from Cornell University and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences conducted a study using UV-B light treatment to understand its role in reducing powdery mildew’s presence on cucumbers.
In the study, the researchers were able to successfully suppress the powdery mildew pathogen without using any type of fungicides which are costly for growers of all kinds. The leaders of the research study were Aruppillai Suthapran from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences as well as Robert Seem and David Gadoury who are plant pathologists from Cornell University. They found that with the use of UV-B light, cucumber powdery mildew was significantly suppressed, particularly when the light was applied during the nighttime hours.
Plant pathologist David Gadoury went on to state, “Powdery mildews go after just about everything we want to grow. I feel fairly safe in saying we could kill any powdery mildew with UV-B. Right now we’re at the caveman level. We’ve discovered this club, and we’re going to whack powdery mildew until we kill it.” As he suggests, while they are only in the initial phases of the research, this development is likely to prove to be a huge breakthrough in the foliar industry. With the use of UV-B light, growers will save tons of money on fungicides and will be able to keep powdery mildew from destroying their crops.
Greenhouse environments have shown to be the most prominent place where powdery mildew develops and then attacks. With the rising costs of transportation and energy, many growers have turned to greenhouses as well as high tunnels to cultivate crop varieties locally, making powdery mildew a serious threat to their harvests. As such, these growers are using an abundance of fungicides to protect their crops. The ability to eliminate the need for fungicide use by replacing this activity with UV-B light would potentially save the growers millions of dollars annually.