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Vegetable and Vegetable Diseases in Illinois

Mohammad Babadoost
Assistant Professor
Department of Crop Sciences
(217) 333-1523

Mohammad Babadoost

More than 100,000 acres of Illinois cropland is planted to vegetable crops. Approximately 50 vegetables are grown in Illinois for processing and fresh markets. Asparagus, beans (lima and snap), cole crops (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.), cucurbits (cucumber, melon, pumpkin, squash, and watermelon), horseradishes, onions, peas, peppers, potatoes, sweet corn, and tomatoes are the major vegetable crops grown in Illinois. The potentially high income of vegetable production attracts many farmers; the value of some vegetables may exceed $10,000 per acre.

Among all states, Illinois ranks first in pumpkin and horseradish, third in popcorn, fifth in green lima beans, sixth in green peas, seventh in snap beans and sweet corn, and 17th in tomato production. Approximately 65 percent and 50 percent of the total commercial processing of pumpkin and horseradish in the United States, respectively, are produced in Illinois.

Although vegetables are very profitable crops, growers often encounter diseases that may seriously threaten crop production. Environmental conditions in Illinois are favorable for many fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases of vegetables. In 1999, yield losses of up to 100 percent were inflicted on some cabbage, cucumber, pepper, pumpkin, and tomato varieties.

Black rot of cabbage, caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris, is a serious disease in Illinois. Planting pathogen-free seed is the most effective method of controlling this disease.

Black Rot of cabbage
Figure 1. Black Rot
of Cabbage

Anthracnose of cucumber, caused by the fungus Colletotrichum orbiculare, is potentially a very damaging disease. Planting resistant varieties, using pathogen-free seed, and timely spraying of fungicides are effective methods for controlling this disease.

Phytophthora blight and fruit rot of pumpkin
Figure 2. Phytophthora blight and
fruit rot of pumpkin
Phytophthora blight, caused by Phytophthora capsici, occurs on cucurbits, eggplant, pepper, and tomato. The disease causes damping-off, foliar blight, and fruit rot. Phytophthora blight is the most threatening disease to crop production and industries of bell peppers and pumpkins in Illinois. There is no single effective method for controlling this disease; only a combination of cultural practices and chemical uses provides effective management.
Two major diseases of tomatoes are bacterial canker, caused by the bacterium Clavibacter michiganensis, and early blight, caused by the fungus Alternaria solani. Using clean seed and clean transplants are the most effective controls of bacterial canker. Early blight can be controlled by the use of pathogen-free seed, planting resistant or tolerant varieties, and timely sprays of fungicides. Early blight of tomato
Figure 3. Early blight of tomato

In general, using clean seed and clean transplants, choosing well-drained sites, planting resistant varieties, and rotating crops are effective practices in managing vegetable diseases.

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