Just when it looked like South Carolina's watermelon crop was off to a nice start, a cold snap last week chilled the outlook.
Because of the late start to the growing season, the state's growers likely won't harvest the first melon until mid-June, according to a news release. Some years, the crop has been ready in early June.
If cool, wet weather prevails, like it did last year, growers could see increased problems from fungal diseases, such as fusarium wilt, gummy stem blight, anthracnose and powdery mildew.
Clemson University plant disease specialist Tony Keinath and Extension watermelon specialist Gilbert Miller have updated the fungicide recommendations in the 2014 commercial watermelon spray guide.
Keinath, who has more than two decades working the watermelon patch, says he favors the Charleston Grey watermelon variety for the flavor. But he says Crimson Sweet has a better disease package.
Watermelons are a $30 million-plus crop for South Carolina.