By Vicky Boyd

Raleigh-based North Carolina State University has begun issuing cucurbit downy mildew forecasts for the 2010 growing season.

The Cucurbit Downy Mildew ipmPIPE Project team that manages the forecast Web site also unveiled a new format that includes a three-level risk prediction system, a Google map display for forecasts, and text and e-mail alerts.

Risk predictions are made based on wind patterns, spore populations and temperatures aloft.

In addition to visiting the project’s Web site, users also can sign up to receive either text messages or e-mails alerting them to the risk of downy mildew, says Mark Brooks, a team meteorologist.

To do so, they simply create an account on the Web site and put their preferences, whether text or e-mail alerts, and the distance from the nearest confirmed find that will trigger an alert.

For example, one user may want to receive an alert if cucurbit downy mildew is was found within 500 miles of his operation, whereas another may want to e notified if it’s within 100 miles, Brooks says.

The texts are brief and simply let the recipient know the disease was found within an x-mile radius. “We know that not everyone has a smart phone,” he says of the reason they opted for plain text.

The other option is e-mail alerts, which have a bit more information and a link to the Web site. The team tested both alert systems last year with about a dozen growers to gain their input before rolling them out this year, Brooks says.

For more information or to sign up to receive alerts, visit

To learn more about the forecasting network, click here to read the September-October 2009 article in The Grower.