Pumpkin vines rotting at the base - Knowledgebase Question

Waukesha, WI
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Question by robertweiss
July 18, 1999
I have a mature pumpkin plant with vines about 10feet long. It's mid-July and the plant seems to be dying from the main root out. It did the same thing last year. This year I purchased Dill Atlantic Giant seeds which up till now have been doing good. Is it some kind insect causing this and if so what can I do to correct this?

Answer from NGA
July 18, 1999
If you feel you have given your pumpkin plants all the conditions for good growing--plenty of sunlight, water, and nutrients, and a rich soil with neutral pH, then you are right to start looking for pest problems. 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.

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