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Fruit Rots on Pumpkins

Pumpkins are one of our favorite fall decorations, food sources, and animal feed sources inpumpkin-fruit-rot Delaware. Agro-tourism, including fall hayrides, pumpkin picking, and other activities are strong sources of farm income. Fruit rots caused by fungi and bacteria can diminish profits of farmers, especially in seasons with wet weather, high humidity and fluctuating temperatures.  Fruit rots also disappoint consumers who expect a purchased pumpkin to last a long time. Micro organisms can cause problems during storage post-harvest.  Avoid wounding pumpkins at harvest, during transit, and keep in a cool location. Wounds allow micro organisms to enter.

The fungus-like organism Phytophthora capsici has a very wide host range, including cucurbits such as pumpkin, watermelon, squash, and tomatoes, beans, and other vegetables. If a pumpkin develops a white powdery soft rot such as in the picture, it may be due to Phytophthora. Discard it in the trash, do not compost in gardens or use the seeds to start plants for next season. Phytophthora is not harmful to humans or animals, but secondary fungi can move in. The black specks in the picture show some secondary fungi that have started to grow on the affected area.

N Gregory 10/21/2016

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