Fusarium Wilt in Watermelon

Abbey Taylor Top Posts, Watermelon

Dan Egel, an Extension vegetable pathologist at Purdue University, recently spoke at the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference about issues with Fusarium wilt in watermelon transplants. He also discussed his yearly greenhouse trial on watermelon and Fusarium wilt.

Since watermelon need long, hot growing seasons, growers may choose to start the watermelon’s growth indoors in the spring to ensure the watermelon will be ready to harvest before the season is over. However, there can be danger when transplanting the seedlings from indoors to outdoors.

According to Egel, an issue that can arise in the transplant process is Fusarium wilt infection. It is possible for the Fusarium wilt to spread throughout the transplants and continue to spread as the plant grows. However, while it can spread within the transplants, it will not spread from plant to plant in the field.

Egel says that it is important for growers to keep a close watch on the seedlings and be able to identify the symptoms of Fusarium wilt. He also warned that Fusarium wilt can survive on dirty transplant trays and contaminated soil.

Egel completes a yearly trial on seedless watermelon in a greenhouse. This trial explores different varieties of seedless watermelon to see which varieties are more or less resistant to Fusarium wilt. Egel grows the Fusarium wilt fungus in the lab, then infects the trial watermelon with the fungus. He says symptoms usually start to show in a week. Egel then rates the symptoms multiple times and uses the Area Under Disease Progress Curve to track the progression of the fungus in the crop. This trial finds the most Fusarium wilt-resistant varieties of seedless watermelon, since there are no varieties of seedless watermelon that are completely resistant to the fungus.

Contact Egel at egel@purdue.edu to learn more about the resistant varieties.

Listen to the full interview:

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