Determining the effectiveness of mustard short-cycle cover crops in managing soil-borne fungal pathogens in cucurbits

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2008: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Grant Recipient: University of Illinois
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Mohammad Babadoost
University of Illinois

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: melons
  • Vegetables: cucurbits


  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, integrated pest management
  • Soil Management: soil microbiology

    Proposal abstract:

    Annual production of cucurbits exceeds 78,000 acres in the Midwest. In Illinois only, about 20,000 acres of pumpkins and 10,000 acres of other cucurbits are produced every year. More than 90% of processing pumpkins are produced and processed in Illinois. Soil-borne fungal pathogens are the most serious threat to cucurbit cultivation in the Midwest, causing up to 100% crop losses. Phytophthora capsici and Fusarium spp. are major soil-borne fungal pathogens in cucurbit fields. There is no resistant cultivar of cucurbits against Phytophthora capsici, and most of cucurbit cultivars are susceptible to Fusarium spp. At present long-term crop rotation, crop sanitation, management of field moisture, and fungicide are used to manage P. capsici and Fusarium spp. Only a very few fungicides are partially effective against P. capsici, and no fungicide is effective against Fusarium spp.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This proposal is a two-year project to determine the effectiveness of mustard short-cycle cover crops in managing soil-borne P. capsici and Fusarium spp in cucurbit fields. The specific objectives are: (i) to compare the effects of the planting seasons of mustard on glucosinolate profile and their release in to the soil; (ii) to determine the specific glucosinolates and their concentration in leaves, root and stem; and (iii) to determine the relationship between allelochemical composition, concentration and pest suppression of the chemicals with fungicidal activities for developing biocontrol integrated pest management (IPM) strategies. The results of this project will be presented and made accessible to the growers and extension personnel and other stakeholders through publications on line and in journals.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.