Watermelon season is starting in South Georgia. Not only are they tasty but watermelons are big business in Georgia with a $124.5 million farm gate value in 2015, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. But along with ripening watermelons, fusarium wilt is also rising in Georgia watermelon fields. UGA scientists are studying whether this fungal disease can be managed through fumigation. Fumigation is a method of pest control that involves using volatile compounds in a restricted area to kill pests and pathogens. Research on fumigation with the fungicide Proline is yielding promising results, according to Bhabesh Dutta, UGA Cooperative Extension vegetable pathologist at the UGA Tifton campus. “I am encouraged by the outcomes of the first year of this trial. We conducted this trial in a field with a history of fusarium wilt. To get a reduction in disease incidence down to as little as 4 percent is encouraging,” he said. Dutta is collaborating with UGA Extension vegetable specialist Tim Coolong and UGA Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources agents Will Gay in Turner County and Josh Grant in Crisp County. The research team plans to continue conducting field trials on the interactive effect of using both a fumigant and a fungicide to control fusarium wilt. In the past four to five years, fusarium wilt emerged as the biggest disease that watermelon farmers face.
Source: Tifton Grapevine