Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Zucchini Has Fungal Disease

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Zucchini Has Fungal Disease

Article excerpt

Byline: BECKY WERN

We've harvested some zucchini, but the new ones are developing a black rot at the flower end that "grows" back through the fruit. What can we do about this?

Choanephora rot is very common on zucchini and other squashes. It begins in the flower and spreads back toward the stem. Certainly diseased fruit should be removed as soon as possible.

This fungal disease is spread by wind, insects and water. You can't control the wind, which has been very powerful lately. Insects, there are some controls for. But at this time of year, gardeners often create unnecessary problems by watering with a sprinkling system. The water not only wets the fruit, making entry by the fungus easier, but it also often causes micro injuries that virtually open the door for the fungus to enter the fruit. The best way to water plants, one favored increasingly by commercial growers, is by using a drip irrigation system.

This not only reduces the danger of fungal diseases, but also reduces the water usage dramatically by applying the water to the root zone instead of flinging it about in the air. A system as simple as a leaky black irrigation hose, or as complex as a drip irrigation system with individual emitters will help solve the problem.

The best method for growing fruiting plants is to avoid contact with the ground (which is likely to contain fungal spores), either by growing the plants on a layer of mulch, or by trellising and tying up the fruit.

Having seen heavy pumpkins and squash suspended from overhead trellises at Epcot recently, I am convinced the plant can indeed support the fruit, especially if some sling-like device is added for extra support.

Fungicides are not very effective for choanephora, so controlling water and insects are key.

I have watermelons planted, and I'm wondering about fertilizing them. I took 6-6-6 and mixed it with water until it dissolved and then applied it. When would I reapply it?

Some things really are best left to the experts. To dissolve granular fertilizer in water changes the way and the speed with which these elements are released and could easily have been disastrous for your crop. …

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