Fusarium Wilt in Watermelon

From Clemson Plant Pathologist Tony Keinath.

Fusarium wilt is showing up in watermelon fields and in research plots at Coastal REC in Charleston. The most telltale symptoms are wilting of a few leaves at the crown of the plant, wilting of one vine on a plant, or wilting without yellowing of a small plant.

One vine of this watermelon plant has wilted. This is a telltale sign of fusarium wilt.

A good field diagnostic trick is to cut a wilted vine close to the crown, split it open lengthwise, and look for reddish brown spots on the crosswise cut or streaks in the lengthwise cut.

Cross section of a watermelon stem showing the discolored, reddish brown spots.

The Fusarium fungus is most active when the soil temperature is below 81 degrees F. Although daytime temperatures were warm in April, the nights were still cool enough to allow infections. At this point, there is nothing that can be done to mange Fusarium wilt. All successful management practices must be done before transplanting. See: Keinath AP. Integrated Management for Fusarium Wilt of Watermelon. Land-Grant Press by Clemson Extension. 2019; LGP 1022.

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