Potentially destructive pumpkin fungus spotted in Central Illinois


EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) – A fungus that has devastated pumpkin crops dating back centuries has reared its head in Central Illinois. The fungus, called Phytophthora capsici, is particularly dangerous to pumpkins and other fruits and vegetables. The fungus was detected in Morton, Illinois last month.

The fungus thrives off the environment that has been present in recent weeks, rainfall and very high temperatures across the region have helped it spread, destroying crop roots and growth in places that have not been mitigated.

We reached out to Roth Pumpkin Patch and they told us they have sprayed anti-fungal on their pumpkin crop and have not seen any sign of infection.

We also reached out to Dr. Mohammad Babadoost, Professor of Plant Protection and Pathology for comment on the severity of the fungus in the region and what farmers can do.

“It lives in the soil and whenever the host is there, and the conditions are conducive, it starts infecting the plant. Very aggressive pathogen and the crop will be gone.” Said Dr. Babadoost. He went on to say that there are ways to manage the disease in pumpkins to where little crop loss occurs.

This fungus attacks the fruit and leaves of pumpkins and other guards, rather than the soil which is where it attacks peppers. If left unmanaged, the repercussions could be felt nationwide.

“Considering that we are number one state in pumpkin production in the nation… if we get an infection and lose the crop, then there will be a big problem in Thanksgiving.” Said Babadoost

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