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Watermelon Growers Winning the Fight with Fusarium Wilt

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. We talked about the alphabet of letters used to describe resistance in certain fruits and vegetables. F, FF, and FFF mean resistance to difference races of fusarium wilt. This pathogen can persist in the soil for years and years and years and is the biggest problem for watermelon growers. I remember when I was a student at Clemson hearing our professor, Dr. Ogle, talk about how watermelon growers were always looking for virgin soil not contaminated with fusarium. For a while farmers could fumigate their fields with methyl bromide but this option was lost about ten years ago. Now, thanks to the work of Dr. Richard Hassell, and Dr. Gilbert Miller, SC farmers are producing grafted watermelon varieties that are prized across the country and in Canada, and South Carolina is the fifth largest watermelon producing state in the country. 

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.