Pumpkins and Banana Squash suddenly died...

Asked July 9, 2013, 1:02 PM EDT

We live in Saratoga Springs, UT. We planted 3 pumpkin plants this year:

1 'hill' with two 'Big Moon' pumpkin plants
1 'hill' with one 'Dills Atlantic' pumpkin

The plants looked healthy, and appeared to be growing fast. The largest was probably 6-7 feet across. There were squash bugs, which we removed by hand and crushed the eggs (as many as possible) and treated the plant with Carbaryl. The plants still looked generally healthy, despite the squash bugs. We actually feel like the squash bugs were pretty much gone when suddenly our Dill's Atlantic pumpkin plant had all of its leaves go flaccid over-night and die. 2 days later, one of the other pumpkin plants did the same thing (Although the one right next to it is still alive and apparently doing okay).

At the same time, about 130 feet away in our back yard, 2 of our banana squash have done the same thing -- completely flaccid and now dead.

They're all on a drip watering system on a timer, so the watering has been very consistent.

Any guesses on what is causing this?


Utah County Utah

3 Responses


Thank you for including the great pictures, that helps. It looks like it could have been a fungal root or crown disease, but impossible to diagnose correctly without seeing a sample. it could be either verticillium wilt, or fusarium wilt. Both of these diseases are exacerbated by too much water. I know that your drip system is on a timer, but if your soil is not well-drained, having some water puddle at the crown of the plants could be the problem.

For the plants that died, you can tell if it is one of these diseases when you remove the plant. If the crown of the plant is somewhat soft, shruken, discolored, or seems "pitted", then it is diseased. If the crown is firm, green, and the root system is healthy, then something else is the culprit.

If you would like to follow up on this, you can email me directly at marion.murray@usu.edu.

First of all, thank you for the reply. It's probably worth noting that the 1 or 2 days before they died was pretty rainy -- which may contribute to the water problem you mentioned. In general our soil does not drain well, but for each plant before planting, I dug a fairly large hole (~3-5 cubic feet) and mixed in compost for better drainage and better soil overall. Maybe next year I'll try more of a 'hill' to avoid water problems if that's the problem.

The "other" pumpkin is still alive and doing fine, FYI.

When I pulled out the roots of the dead pumpkin plants, they both seemed fairly firm at the base -- as much as I'd expect a healthy root base to be anyway, although I'm no expert. I'll attach pictures here just in case it's any more help in providing clues to what it might be.

As always, thank you.

It looks like there is something going on with the crown of the plant. If you have not discarded these that you pulled out, the next step is to scrape the outer skin away in layers at the crown. If you see browning of the flesh, that is your problem. The browning may be in a ways.

The best option is to rotate this space out of pumpkins for at least 2 years.

Again, if you need to reply, please email me directly at marion.murray@usu.edu.