Fusarium wilt of watermelon, caused by the soilborne fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum race 2, is a serious, widespread disease present in major watermelon-growing regions of the United States and other countries. ‘Fascination,’ a high yielding triploid resistant to race 1, is grown in southeastern states in fields that contain a mixture of races 1 and 2. There is some benefit to using cultivars with race 1 resistance in such fields, even though Fascination is susceptible to Fusarium wilt caused by race 2. Experiments in 2012 and 2013 were done in fields infested primarily with race 2 and a mixture of races 1 and 2, respectively. Fascination was grafted onto four rootstock cultivars: bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) ‘Macis’ and ‘Emphasis’ and interspecific hybrid squash (Cucurbita maxima× C. moschata) ‘Strong Tosa’ and ‘Carnivor.’ Nongrafted and self-grafted Fascination were used as susceptible control treatments. In both experiments, mean incidence of plants with symptoms of Fusarium wilt was ≥52% in the susceptible control treatments and ≤6% on the grafted rootstocks. Disease incidence did not differ between rootstock species or cultivars. In both years, Fascination grafted onto Strong Tosa and Macis produced more marketable-sized fruit than the susceptible control treatments. Grafted Emphasis and Carnivor also produced more fruit than the control treatments in 2012. The cucurbit rootstocks suppressed Fusarium wilt caused by race 2 and increased marketable yield of triploid watermelon grown in infested soil.
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