Brown spots on melon vines - Knowledgebase Question

Brookfield, CT
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Question by mlj0624
July 18, 1999
Several melon vines have brown spots near the base. One has a pink ooze. No wilting yet. Last year several vines wilted and died-? why. Butternut,watermelon and zucchini not affected and were not last year either. Have seen a few squash bugs and many cucumber beetles. Rotating plants a problem due to limited area fenced.

Answer from NGA
July 18, 1999
If you feel you have given your plants all the conditions for good growing--plenty of sunlight, water, and nutrients, and a rich soil with neutral pH, then the wilting could be a disease problem. Bacterial wilt is spread by cucumber beetles; they spread the bacteria to the plant as they feed. To test for bacteria, cut a wilted stem near the base of the plant and squeeze out the sap--look for a milky white substance. Touch the tip of a knife to the ooze, and if as you withdraw the knife it strings out in a fine thread, you have a bacterial infection. There is no chemical control for this type of wilt; the best bet is to control the beetles--or better yet, grow resistant varieties.

There are other fungal diseases which could be the culprit,such as fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt. These diseases are most common when the cucumbers are grown in the same place year after year. They cause the leaves to turn yellow, then brown, then die. Lower leaves are affected first. The fungus overwinters in the soil, so cleaning up crops residue at season's end can help. The best solution is to rotate your crops and plant resistant varieties.

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