Explore current updates for watermelon diseases thus far in the Florida season for North Florida.

Regional Specialized Extension agent in Live Oak, Florida, Bob Hochmuth, shared updates on the current state of the watermelon season when it comes to watermelon diseases for North Florida, according to a Specialty Crop Industry article. While there are no major concerns, Hochmuth wanted growers to remain vigilant and to keep up with preventative programs. “We’re trying to give them advice to where once we start seeing things early on, because we’ve got the perspective of the whole region rather than just an individual field, we can give them a pretty good idea of what to look out for,” he said in the article. See the details below.

Update on Watermelon Diseases

Downy Mildew Disease. While downy has not yet made an appearance this year, Hochmuth said, “We’re keeping a really close eye on (downy) because that’s the next one that if we don’t have to face that one, that would be awesome. It’s an expensive treatment, and the treatments only affect downy. They don’t help us on anything else.”

Gummy Stem Blight Disease. Since it has been increasing, Hochmuth maintained that watermelon growers need to look to their fungicide applications. “I think that’s what seems to be making a little bit of a surge. The weather has been in our favor for the most part. Nothing seems to be too scary and taking off but whereas before, we only had a handful that came in on the transplants, now it’s a little bit more than that,” Hochmuth said in the article.

As for treatment, the article recommends that “Inspire Super provides excellent control, while Luna Experience another good option for gummy stem blight. Both applications need to have a seven-day pre-harvest interval. As producers get to 7 to 10 days from initial harvest, they may want to use one of these materials it’s a challenge to adhere to a 7-day pre-harvest interval after harvests have commenced.”

Powdery Mildew. Hochmuth advised growers to stay on top of their powdery mildew preventative fungicide programs. The article recommended that “Producers should rotate between Quintec and Procure along with a broad-spectrum fungicide like Mancozeb or Chlorothalonil if gummy stem blight is not present.”

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