Powdery mildew is the bane of just about every species of summer or winter squash. It's not a matter of if it will show up, but when. It's a fungus that infects the plant and sucks nutrients from it, usually starting with the leaves; which initially take on a white, powdery appearance. The affected leaves will not manufacture as much food as they should, and may turn yellowish or brown and drop from the plant. It can also stunt and distort the plant's buds and sometimes, but less often, the squash itself. There is no known cure, although there are some fungicides which can prolong the life of the plant and reduce the ability of the disease to spread.
When the infection occurs early in the growing season, it means several months of trying to keep the plant alive long enough to produce squash. Since the infection of my papaya pear summer squash plants occurred only a couple of weeks ago, I decided to just let things take their course and see what would happen. I was fairly certain that the plants had given me the last fruits I would see this year and were on their way to oblivion.
As you can see by the photos above, I was wrong. It's hard to believe that the fresh green growth seen in the top photo, is part of the same plant as the severely infected leaves seen in the bottom photo. There will be one more harvest of tender, tasty squash this year. And once again I've been reminded to never underestimate the tenacity of life.