"To prevent this disease, we recommend crop rotation of three years or longer with non-host crops, followed by seed treatment and routine scouting, especially of low areas in fields," Babadoost said. "Management of this disease requires serious, intensive work by growers, processing companies and Extension personnel. In general, no single method provides adequate control."
If Phytophthora blight is observed and localized, Babadoost recommends disking the area of infected plants to prevent the entire loss of a field. Fungicides can also be applied by commercial growers if there is no standing water in the fields. If growers choose to irrigate from a pond, it's important to make sure the pond does not contain run-off from an infested field as the pathogen may be present in the run-off for the whole season.
"This disease is greatly affected by moisture," he said. "The best way to prevent it is to keep the site as dry as possible. Home gardeners should water plants in the morning so the plants can dry throughout the day."
Pumpkins are important to Illinois, making disease prevention and monitoring crucial, Babadoost said. He remains in close contact with growers and industry representatives in order to keep diseases like this one under control.
"When the pumpkin industry experiences loss, it affects our state's economy and the people of Illinois," Babadoost said. "But more important, this is a unique crop that has value beyond dollars and cents. It's an educational and recreational crop. Any field that draws thousands of visitors every day to view it, such as popular Illinois pumpkin patches in the fall, carries significance beyond its market price."
|Contact: Jennifer Shike|
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences