Clemson University researchers have received a USDA grant to find novel ways to improve crop nutrient use efficiency and pest management in organic watermelon.
The 2023 Clemson University Watermelon Field Day is July 13 at the Edisto REC in Blackville, S.C.
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This year’s Clemson University Watermelon Field Day highlights innovative technology combined with tested management practices to give watermelon growers an edge on growing this summer favorite.

Watermelon is the largest acreage vegetable crop grown in South Carolina, with 117 million pounds produced in 2022. It is produced in all 46 counties, with the bulk of the crop coming from the Central Savannah River Area. The Clemson Cooperative Extension Service holds a free annual Watermelon Field Day to share research-based information with the public.

Gilbert Miller, Clemson Extension vegetable specialist, said this year’s field day is scheduled for July 13, with registration beginning at 8 a.m. at the Edisto Research and Education Center (EREC), 64 Research Road, Blackville, S.C. 29817. The indoor program begins at 8:15 a.m.

Topics and speakers for the indoor program include Tony Keinath, Clemson plant pathologist and Extension vegetable pathologist, who will talk about Fusarium biology and disease development. Fusarium wilt is the most widespread and destructive disease of watermelon in South Carolina, the southeastern United States and other areas of the world.

The fungus that causes this disease can remain in soil indefinitely in the form of resting spores that survive heat, cold and drought. Over the years, this fungus has been able to adapt and infect previously resistant varieties. Keinath will discuss what his research has found about using fungicides and grafting to manage Fusarium wilt.

More discussion about Fusarium will take place during the morning session when Bhupinder Jatana, an assistant professor of horticulture and vegetable crops, talks about Fusarium research at the Edisto REC. Ben Hinson, with TriEst Ag, will give an update on watermelon grafting.

Following the indoor session, participants will visit research plots and continue discussions. The field session will include several topics including a Solar Shrink Mulch Film Demonstration and a Rainfall Simulation Demonstration.

During the field session, Miller will give participants a Biodegradable Plastic Update and a team led by Matthew Cutulle, a Clemson weed scientist, will give an update on Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD) research. Participants also will get updates on watermelon field trials for 74 varieties.

More discussions will be held during lunch at the EREC office complex.

This event qualifies for 3 South Carolina Recertification Pesticide License credits.

For more information, contact Gilbert Miller at (803) 284-3343 ext 271.


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