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Powdery mildew develops quickly under favorable conditions because the length of time between infection and the appearance of symptoms is usually only 3-7 days and a large number of conidia can be produced in a short time. Favorable conditions include dense plant growth and low light intensity. High relative humidity (RH) is favorable for infection and conidial survival, but infection can take place at RH levels as low as 50%. Dry conditions are favorable for colonization, sporulation, and dispersal. Rain and free moisture on the plant surface are unfavorable, however, disease development occurs in both the presence or absence of dew. Infection can occur at 50-90Â°F; mean temperatures of 68-80Â°F are favorable. Powdery mildew development is arrested at daytime temperatures of 100Â°F or higher. Plants in the field are often not affected until after fruit initiation. The leaves are most susceptible 16-23 days after unfolding.
Contary to popular belief, powdery mildew generally does not require free water to establish and grow. Infection can actually occur on dry leaves. Warm temperatures and shady conditions encourage the fungus to grow and spread. However, the spores and mycelium are sensitive to extreme heat and direct sunlight.
The optimum temperature for infection is between 68 to 77 degrees F and relative humidity between 40 to 100% is sufficient for the spores to germinate. Low, diffuse light also seems to favor powdery mildew development. The mildew can spread rapidly since the disease cycle can be completed in as little as 72 hours. However, it commonly takes 7-10 days from the time of infection to the development of symptoms and secondary spore production.
Plant in full sunlight in a well-drained area.
Do not crowd plants. Air flow and ventilation will discourage mildew growth.
Powdery mildew thrives where high rates of nitrogen have been used. High nitrogen promotes tender leaf formation, causing dense stands that are more susceptible to infections. Adequately fertilize but avoid stimulating succulent growth. Organic fertilizers or slow-release formulations of lawn fertilizers are good choices.
Prune infected plants to get rid of infected parts and increase airflow. If the infestations are severe, remove and destroy the plants that are infected.
Disinfect your pruning tool in a bleach solution of one part household bleach to four parts water after each cut.
Watering plants in the morning gives the plants the rest of the day to dry off, discouraging establishment of diseases, including powdery mildew.
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