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a pile of cucumbers

Anthracnose is a serious fungal disease of cucurbit crops such as cucumber, squash, cantaloupe, and watermelon. The disease develops under warm, wet conditions similar to what gardeners have experienced in Alabama during the month of May. Currently, there are a number of home gardens showing symptoms of the disease in the state.

Anthracnose Symptoms

Symptoms are most noticeable on older leaves as tan to dark brown and somewhat circular spots. The spots may merge resulting in blighting, distortion, and death of entire leaves. The dry, dead centers of old lesions often crack and tear, giving infected leaves a ragged appearance. Lesions that are elongated and sunken can also develop on petioles and stems of plants which can result in the death of developing fruit. Older fruit can also be infected with symptoms appearing as circular, sunken, dark green to black lesions.

Managing Anthracnose

Disease management relies on cultural practices such as planting only certified disease-free seed, choosing cultivars with resistance to anthracnose, controlling weeds (especially volunteer cucurbits), and collecting and destroying—or plowing under—infected crop debris after harvest. Chemical control can be obtained through the use of a weekly fungicide spray program with a focus on getting coverage of leaf undersides and fruit. Spray programs should be initiated when weather conditions favor disease development or when the disease if first detected in the garden.