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Managing Fusarium Wilt of Watermelon with Delayed Transplanting and Cultivar Resistance

Keinath, Anthony P., Coolong, Timothy W., Lanier, Justin D., Ji, Pingsheng
Plant disease 2019 v.103 no.1 pp. 44-50
Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum, Fusarium wilt, cultivars, disease incidence, fruits, planting date, soil temperature, triploidy, watermelons, Georgia, South Carolina
Fusarium wilt of watermelon caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum is a serious, widespread disease of watermelon throughout the southern United States. To investigate whether soil temperature affects disease development, three cultivars of triploid watermelon were transplanted March 17 to 21, April 7 to 11, and April 26 to May 2 in 2015 and 2016 at Charleston, SC, and Tifton, GA into fields naturally infested with F. oxysporum f. sp. niveum. Incidence of Fusarium wilt was lower with late-season than with early and midseason transplanting in all four experiments (P ≤ 0.01). Cultivar Citation had more wilted plants than the cultivars Fascination and Melody in three of four experiments (P ≤ 0.05). In South Carolina, planting date did not affect weight and number of marketable fruit ≥4.5 kg apiece. In Georgia in 2016, weight and number of marketable fruit were greater with late transplanting than with early and midseason transplanting. In both states, yield and value for Fascination and Melody were higher than for Citation. Soil temperature averaged over the 4-week period after transplanting was negatively correlated with disease incidence for all four experiments (r = –0.737, P = 0.006). Transplanting after mid-April and choosing a cultivar with resistance to F. oxysporum f. sp. niveum race 1, like Fascination, or tolerance, like Melody, can help manage Fusarium wilt of watermelon and increase marketable yields in the southern United States.