Florida Watermelon Viruses
Sweet watermelons go hand in hand with relaxed summertime picnics. However, it is often anything but relaxing to grow healthy watermelons in parts of the southeast.
Watermelons are susceptible to a variety of diseases such as powdery mildew and gummy stem blight.
Now, the University of Florida Extension says there are two new viruses that could endanger watermelon crops; the crinkled leaf-associated virus 1 and 2.
Pam Roberts, professor of plant pathology and state Extension specialist for vegetable pathology at the University of Florida tells Vegetable and Specialty Crop News that there is not a lot known about these viruses. Scientists are still unsure what the vector is and that means farmers can’t combat the viruses in an effective way.
Florida farmers are not unfamiliar with the challenges.
Bob Hochmuth of the University of Florida AIFIS Extension talks about the ongoing challenges of growing watermelon in the state.
“Disease management overall is one of the highest expenses for our watermelon growers in the state of Florida. We just have a series of conditions that make it conducive for a lot of these diseases to become problems. So every year, there has to be a high level of investment to minimize the losses from diseases such as powdery mildew, gummy stem blight, downy mildew, and others.”
Growers can help researchers learn more about Crinkle leaf-associated virus 1 and 2 by bringing leaf samples of suspected infected melons to the plant diagnostic lab at the Southwest Florida Research and Education Center or to the North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy.