It wouldn’t be fall without pumpkins, and a University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment plant pathologist is part of an Extension network that warns cucurbit producers about dangers of downy mildew.

The early-warning system allows them to protect there crops from what can be a devastating disease.

Kenny Seebold is the state coordinator for the Cucurbit Downy Mildew IPM PIPE program. IPM PIPE stands for Integrated Pest Management Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education.

The program was founded by and is housed at North Carolina State University. The forecasting group includes coordinators from 27 states and one Canadian province, who identify the presence of downy mildew, the number of acres affected and the percent of the crop affected.

They use that information, along with current weather patterns, to forecast where the downy mildew pathogen might be headed. The group began forecasting for downy mildew in 2009 with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

Downy mildew has the potential to devastate cucurbits, which, in addition to pumpkins, include cucumbers and squashes. Once the disease is established it moves very quickly through a crop. The pathogen travels by wind to infect other crops. It can largely be controlled through preventative fungicide applications.