What is in this article?:
- Georgia watermelon disease nastiest in recent memory
- 30 percent got hit
- Phytophthora fruit rot attacks watermelon, making them inedible. It thrives in rainy weather. The continuous rainfall last June and July made Phytophthora a more widespread problem than normal in Georgia.
- Farmers could pick their melons, have them packed and stored and the fruit not show signs of the disease until after they were shipped.
PHYTOPHTHORA FRUIT ROT is a water mold that attacks the fruits of watermelon plants, making them inedible. Watermelon specialists figure the disease claimed 30 percent of the crop in Georgia in 2013, the worst year for it in recent memory.
30 percent got hit
He estimates that close to 30 percent of the state’s watermelon crop got hit by Phytophthora. According to the UGA Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network, Tifton received 19.1 inches of rainfall from June 1 to July 31.
During that same timeframe, Moultrie recorded 20.79 inches and Cordele received 13.15 inches. All three locations are in the state’s southern region and the top watermelon-producing counties in the state.
“We have a little bit every year,” Langston said. “In some years, when it’s more rainy, we see it a little bit more than others. But this is by far the worse year that I’ve seen with (Phytophthora).”
Turner County was also among the counties affected. Scott Utley, the UGA Extension coordinator there, said 300 of the county’s 1,800 acres of watermelons were affected by this water-mold disease.
In Utley’s 15 years in Turner County, this year has been the worst year for the watermelon disease.
“We can expect it, but it’s very isolated or random in its appearance. It comes in on a storm system, say from Florida, and drops down on a field. I’ve been here 15 years and until this year’s growing season, I just saw it twice before in isolated instances,” Utley said. “In 2012, there was just one field on the Turner-Worth County line.”
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