Managing cucurbit diseases with research, outreach

Rebecca Grumet has dedicated her career to assisting specialty crop growers as an expert in reproductive development and disease resistance in cucurbit crops such as cucumbers, melons, squash and watermelons.

MSU researcher Rebecca Grumet (left) with a student in the lab.
Michigan agriculture boasts more than 300 commodities, giving it a richness and diversity surpassed only by California in the U.S.

Specialty crops — fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery crops and floricultural crops — are an essential aspect of this agricultural economy. Michigan’s pickling cucumber industry, for example, is the nation’s largest at an estimated value of nearly $50 million per year.

Rebecca Grumet has dedicated her career to assisting specialty crop growers. A professor in the Michigan State University Department of Horticulture, she is an expert in reproductive development and disease resistance in cucurbit crops such as cucumbers, melons, squash and watermelons.

Disease issues have cost U.S. watermelon producers more than $20 million over the last three years. Cucumbers have been affected by two particularly devastating diseases — downy mildew and Phytophthora fruit rot, caused by a pathogen called Phytophthora capsici. Because of these problems, cucumber growers lose an estimated $5 million annually.

Grumet is the lead investigator on a multi-institutional, nationwide research endeavor called the Cucurbit Coordinated Agricultural Project (CucCAP). The project began in 2015 with a $6.5 million grant from the Specialty Crop Research Initiative within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

CucCAP is rooted in a holistic approach to production, from breeding and pathology to economic analysis and outreach. A stakeholder advisory group, composed of commodity organizations and seed industry representatives from around the world, helps to set research priorities and provide support.

Read more about the project at MSU. 

For more information:
Holly Whetstone, editor, 
whetst11@msu.edu 
517-355-0123.


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