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Kyle’s News and Reviews

Last week I got the opportunity to help a local watermelon growing farmer out from the Water Valley area and also have a little fun with his diagnosis.  This particular grower came into the office on Wednesday and brought a few cantaloupes for everyone in the office and also had a watermelon leaf that was obviously diseased.  

Wednesday afternoon I took a trip up to Water Valley to look at his patch and surveyed the damage.  The damage was widespread with all of the leaves dying and crumbling in the two-acre patch and most of the vines dying.  The decision was made to get some samples delivered to the pathology lab at Mississippi State.  

I had several soil samples accumulating at the office so I decided to take soil samples and diseased watermelon samples over to campus on Friday.  I gathered disease samples in the rain on Friday morning and headed to Starkville.  After dropping the soil samples off at the soil lab I headed over to Dorman Hall to see the only Plant Pathologist that was on campus Friday, Dr. Alan Henn.  Dr. Henn was glad to help and immediately took the samples to his lab and begin working on them.  I waited around for his results and he allowed me to look at the disease under a microscope and gave me some tips for identifying this disease.  

After looking at and studying the disease, the conclusion was made that the culprit was Anthracnose, which is a fairly common disease associated with wet, warm, humid weather and spreads rapidly in any cucurbit crop.  Dr. Henn gave me some information to pass along to the grower and sent me on my way.  This is where the fun began. 

I headed back towards Yalobusha County and tried to call this particular grower on the telephone but he wouldn’t answer, so I tried his wife, who answered.  I told her that I was looking for “Mr. Grower,” and that I had some bad news.  She promptly handed the phone to him and I laid it on thick.  

I started out by telling “Mr. Grower” that I had the results from his samples and he had to stop harvesting melons immediately and couldn’t go back in his patch.  Now “Mr. Grower” is a gullible fellow and he says, “O my gosh what is it I have?”  

I proceeded to tell him a rare form of Anthrax that had developed on his melon patch and that half of Mississippi State’s scientist were on their way to his patch right now to quarantine it.  I could hear his wife in the background stroking out.  

I knew that “Mr. Grower” had been growing this same patch for the annual Watermelon Carnival for many years and was getting very concerned that he wouldn’t have any melons for the carnival.  

I told “Mr. Grower” not to worry about melons this year that I would gladly provide him some melons this year out of my patch –  nearly free of charge.  

He said, “That sounds great” and that is when I lost it and had to come clean with him on my little prank.  

I hope everyone has a good Watermelon Carnival experience this year and just to let everyone know, there is no fungus or disease that causes a watermelon to be poisonous to eat.   

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