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Bacterial disease wipes out the crop at local pumpkin farm
Posted Sep 08, 2010 @ 09:31 PM
There will be no pumpkins at Miller’s Market this year, and a plant disease called bacterial leaf spot is to blame.
The farm on Kentville Road east of Kewanee has been a popular destination in the fall for people seeking pumpkins for making decorations, jack-o-lanterns or pie.
But John Miller, owner of the farm, said Wednesday, “This year we will not harvest.”
Miller said bacterial leaf spot has caused a 95 percent loss of marketable pumpkins at the farm.
Bacterial leaf spot causes pumpkins and other fruits to spoil, and Miller said, “You really have to look for a pumpkin that isn’t affected with the disease.”
This is the second year in a row the disease has struck the Miller farm. Last year, Miller said, bacterial leaf spot claimed 75 percent of the pumpkin crop, although the rest was harvested.
There is no known control for the disease at this time, Miller said.
“This disease is becoming a major concern for many pumpkin growers in both Illinois and Indiana,” Miller said. “University of Illinois plant pathologists are conducting research concerning this disease in a number of pumpkin fields in Illinois,” including Miller’s.
He added that this strain of bacteria attacks cucumbers, melons, squash and pumpkins, which are members of the cucurbit family.
There is the danger in planting. You may not get a harvest. When a disease or pest attacks one type of plant you have to depend on distance to separate stocks of that plant so that some survive or different parent stocks, one of which may be resistant to the disease or pest.
Modern farmers also try to plant different varieties of a crop to spread the risk. To plant only one variety is to ask for trouble. There have been cases in the past where one set of varieties with the same parent stock have all suffered. These incidents have reinforced the resolve of seed breeders and their farmer clients, to have a wide variety of parents for their seed stock. This has also made it very important that we have a variety of sources for our food, including heirloom varieties, organics, and GMO’s in one type of food source, or a wide variety of plant and animal sources. All of them have a place in preserving the most important job in agriculture. Feeding the world.
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