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Cucurbits and Cucurbit Diseases in Illinois

Annual production of commercial cucurbit crops in Illinois exceeds 27,000 acres. In addition, cucurbits are widely grown in home gardens. Major cucurbit crops produced commercially in Illinois are processing pumpkins (9,000 A), jack-o-lantern pumpkins (10,000–12,000 A), squash (2,500 A), cucumber (2,000 A), watermelon (1,500 A), and cantaloupe (1,000 A). Among all states, Illinois ranks first in pumpkin production. About 70 percent of the commercial processing pumpkins in the United States are produced in Illinois. The value of cucurbit industries in Illinois is estimated to be $150 million.

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Figure 1. Bacterial fruit blotch of watermelon.
Figure 2. Bacterial rind necrosis of watermelon.
Figure 3. Plectosporium blight of pumpkin.
Figure 4. Anthracnose symptoms on cucumber leaves.

Although cucurbits are very profitable crops, growers often encounter diseases that may seriously threaten crop production. Some of the diseases may cause up to 100 percent yield losses. However, a broad research program on management of diseases of cucurbit crops has been established, and significant progress on controlling diseases has been achieved. As a result, acreage and yield of cucurbit crops in 2001 and 2002 increased considerably (e.g., more than 20 percent increase in acreage of processing pumpkins).

Anthracnose, Phytophthora blight, powdery mildew, downy mildew, Fusarium diseases, bacterial spot, and viral diseases commonly occur on cucurbits in Illinois. In 2000 and 2001, three new diseases of cucurbits—bacterial rind necrosis of watermelon (Erwinia sp.), bacterial fruit blotch of watermelon (Acidovorax avenae subsp. citrulli), and Plectosporium (Microdochium blight) of pumpkin (Plectosporium tabacinum)—were diagnosed and reported for the first time in Illinois. More information on cucurbit diseases, as well as diseases of other vegetables, is available on the website below.

Stop by the tent on Agronomy Day to see live samples of diseased vegetables and to learn methods of disease control.


Mohammad Babadoost, Assistant Professor
Department of Crop Sciences
(217) 333-1523; babadoos@illinois.edu

http://babadoost.cropsci.illinois.edu


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