My cucumbers start out fine early in the season, then they wilt and die suddenly. Why?
Your cucumber plants are likely infected with bacterial wilt. The bacteria that causes this disease lives in the gut of cucumber beetles. Striped cucumber beetles (yellowish green with 3 long black stripes down the back) or spotted cucumber beetles (yellowish green with 12 black spots on the back) may spread the disease. Adult beetles are about 1-4 inch long. They transmit the disease to the plant through feeding wounds. The only control for bacterial wilt is to control the beetles. A floating row cover can exclude the beetles, but you'll need to remove the cover for a few hours each day or hand-pollinate flowers to get fruit set. Plant wilt-resistant varieties if possible. You can also spray vines with an insecticide to control beetles.
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