University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences scientists do not recommend that Florida watermelon growers grow watermelons in the fall. This assessment is attributed to the multiple variables growers must overcome including weather, high disease pressure and whitefly infestations.
The October newsletter from the South Florida Pest and Disease Hotline reports that whitefly infestations are widely present across central Florida. They are low to moderate in cucumber and squash. Populations are very low in watermelon.
Two new watermelon viruses discovered recently in Texas are now a concern of Florida producers. The crinkled leaf-associated virus 1 and 2 have been found in Collier, Desoto, Glades, Osceola, Charlotte and Seminole counties. They just add to a long list of disease and virus challenges that farmers must overcome in the Southeast.
According to the South Florida Pest and Disease Hotline, up to eight whitefly adults have been observed on melons in the Immokalee, Florida area. Scouts report between 15% to 60% of plants having one or multiple adults.
Whiteflies cause feeding injury issues in vegetables and transmit two viruses: cucurbit leaf crumple virus and cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus. Sanitation of vegetable crops susceptible to whiteflies remains a key management strategy for Florida producers.
Some of the earliest planted fall squash and zucchini is being picked now.
The buildup of whiteflies concerns growers because they feed on vegetables and transmit two viruses: cucurbit leaf crumple virus and cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus.
University of Florida plant pathologists discuss watermelon breeding efforts for disease resistance to Fusarium wilt.”The key to eliminating fusarium wilt disease’s impact on watermelons in the Southeast is developing disease-resistance cultivars.”