This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Water Melon Fusarium

Water melon grafted

Both melon growers and home gardeners who grow melons are beset by numerous problems related to disease, weather, pests and the quest for fruit uniformity. Now a new threat has emerged. In separate studies, scientists with the United States Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Lane, Oklahoma, and at the University of Maryland (UM) in Salisbury, have identified a new, more aggressive race of the fungus that causes Fusarium Wilt in water melon. This disease can attack plants at any stage of growth, leaving young seedlings lifeless, or mature plants fruitless with nothing to show but shrivelled and yellowing leaves.

ARS scientists Benny Bruton and Wayne Fish, together with UM’s Xin-Gen Zhou and Kathryne Everts, discovered a new race of the fungus Fusarium oxysporum that causes Fusarium Wilt. Their findings were presented recently at the joint meeting of the American Phytopathology Society and the Mycological Society of America in Quebec City, Canada.

Bruton and Fish found the new race, dubbed "Race 3," while monitoring water melon plants in fields near their Oklahoma laboratory. Bruton saw that a new, differently-acting fungus was plaguing plants thought to be resistant to Fusarium. Three distinct races of Fusarium are known to cause wilt in melons. Plant breeders have developed water melon cultivars that can fend off Races 0 and 1 fairly well, and luckily, Race 2 - for which there are no resistant commercial cultivars - is not competitive in the soil environment. According to Bruton, the same is likely true for the new, more virulent Race 3. However, he has got a solution. He and colleagues have found that grafting water melon onto sturdy squash or gourd rootstock is an effective way of controlling Fusarium Wilt. Such rootstocks are resistance to the Fusarium races that attack water melon. When water melon are grafted onto Cucurbita rootstock, the resulting water melon plant will gain resistance to Fusarium Wilt and show enhanced fruit quality.

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Happy Gardening



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