The Q&A Archives: Causes of Dry, Brown Cantaloupe Leaves

Question: The last two years, our cantaloupe plants have set lots of fruit, but before most of the fruit ripens, the tops of the leaves turn brown and dry. This condition spreads down the leaves, and eventually the plants die. Last year, we mulched with about 8-10 inches of straw and watered deeply about once a week. The melon patch has been in a different location each year. This is very frustrating, as the one or two cantaloupes that have ripened have been delicious. What's the problem? David Roose Annapolis, MD

Answer: It sound like you have fusarium wilt, a soil-borne fungus commonly spread by cucumber beetles. To help control it: Plant resistent varieties Use a floating row cover over the young plants until blossoms open (to keep cucumber beetles out) Destroy infected plants

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