Too much summer rainfall soaked farmlands across Georgia and brought major disease problems to the state’s watermelon crop.

Phytophthora fruit rot is a water mold that attacks the fruits of watermelon plants, making them inedible. It thrives in rainy weather. The continuous rainfall last June and July made Phytophthora a more widespread problem than normal.

“Since we had more wet weather this growing season than we’ve ever had since I’ve been here, that really made (Phytophthora) a lot worse,” said David Langston, an Extension plant pathologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “It just never stopped raining during the watermelon season.”

Phytophthora fruit rot not only affects watermelons in the field, but also during post harvest. Farmers could pick their fruit, have them packed and stored, and the fruit not show signs of the disease until after they were shipped.

“Not only will the grower not get paid for the watermelons, but the grower has to pay for the shipping to the location. And the grower also has to pay to have them disposed of, so it’s a real double whammy,” said Langston, who researches vegetable crops on the UGA campus in Tifton, Ga.