Watermelon seeds are from the cucurbit family, widely grown both on farms and in vegetable gardens in Malaysia. This essential vegetable crop has a long history of production in tropical countries such as Malaysia as they are generally well-adapted and can be grown under hot conditions.
Diseases are common and can prevent watermelon quality and supply. Please note that pests and diseases can happen during the growing cycle and can impact all plant parts from roots to fruit.
When diseases attack vines, they are usually severe and the vines can die prematurely. Foliar diseases diminish fruit quality by exposing watermelons to sun-scald; healthy foliage is responsible for fruit sweetness and normal ripening.
When fruit is affected by a disease, it is prone to decay, resulting in losses. Luckily, it is possible to control watermelon pests and conditions to maintain consistent production and quality.
Watermelon diseases are often caused by pathogens such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, and nematodes. They can also be caused by environmental conditions like soil imbalances, extreme soil moisture, herbicide drift or air pollution.
How To Manage Watermelon Pests and Diseases?
1. Weed Control
Most gardeners use hand-hoeing for weed control. You can also apply herbicides with shallow incorporation making sure transplants are located with the roots below the treated area.
Another excellent idea for weed control is to provide plastic mulch over the plant row. Always keep the space between each row clean by using a herbicide.
If you don’t have plastic mulch, you can control grass by applying postemergence herbicides. Please note that it is crucial to read the chemical label since watermelon seeds are significantly affected by herbicide damage, especially during growth.
Make sure to cultivate in shallow rows shallow to prevent damage to the root system.
2. Watermelon Pests
Several insect species like caterpillars, aphids, thrips and mites can severely damage watermelon seeds. You can use insecticides to control insect pests of watermelon.
Some of the most common pests are:
- Melon Aphid – sucks sap and weakens the plant.
- Melon worm – caterpillars feed on leaves and flowers
- Leaf-cutting beetle – developing watermelon seeds are impacted by adult leaves
- Thrips – most common during sunny weather
- White fly – leaves become chlorotic and are shredded prematurely
- Leaf miner – larvae feed between leaf surfaces.
3. Watermelon Diseases
Even though watermelon seeds are tough, once in a while they can develop diseases. Fortunately, treating watermelon issues is usually a simple matter, but it is essential to know what is causing the problem.
Some of the most common watermelon diseases include:
- Anthracnose – a fungus that can appear as small spots on your plants and fruits—a terrific solution is crop rotation combined with neem oil.
- Bacterial Fruit Blotch – commonly responsible for seedlings and young plants and fruits with water-soaks spots. You can control symptoms with copper fungicide. Make sure to apply immediately as symptoms of bacterial fruit blotch are shown.
- Downy Mildew – usually starts as yellow areas but then turns brown on the undersides of infected leaves. You can control this disease with neem oil.
- Gummy Stem Blight – with this disease, the fungus is involved. The first signs include wrinkled spots on leaves or sunken in stems and fruits. It is challenging to control, but copper fungicides can be useful.
- Powdery Mildew – when the infection is active, leaves appear to have a white powdery substance on them. The good news is that fruits are not often impacted. Neem oil is a terrific remedy. Another excellent idea is to increase air circulation around watermelon plants.
It is essential to include an integrated pest management strategy to stop watermelon pests and diseases. You will probably need to use pesticides for the management of disease and other problems.
Besides the use of pesticides, there are other economic strategies for effective control, such as:
- Crop rotation
- Disease-resistant varieties
In a Nutshell
Don’t forget that watermelon seeds are best grown on sandy loam soils, with good drainage and a slight pH of 6.0 to 6.8. Y
ou can also use plastic mulches in those areas where conditions are not ideal for growth. While the plants establish, make sure to use floating row covers to protect against insect pests.
Follow the above recommendations for growing healthy watermelon seeds. For more information, feel free to get in touch with us.