Meet A Nematode
His name is Ned. Ned Nematode is Syngenta's 70'-long mascot dedicated to drawing attention to Avicta Complete Corn, a new nematicide/insecticide/fungicide.
Ned's real-life counterparts are microscopic, threadlike roundworms that cause damage by feeding in or on plant roots. University of Illinois plant pathologist Terry Niblack says nematode damage also provides an entry point for viruses, bacteria and fungi that invade the root and further weaken the plant.
Corn-damaging nematodes occur in all soil types, not just sandy soils. "Nematodes are not exotic pests. They are native to the U.S. They dined on prairie grass and native plants until corn came along,” Niblack says.
Changes in corn production practices are to blame for the increase in injury from corn nematodes. "Soil-applied insecticides [organophosphate and carbamate] that once suppressed nematodes are not being used as much,” she notes.
Reduced tillage, specifically no-till, has an impact since most nematodes tend to be tillage-sensitive. More corn-on-corn production contributes to the nematode situation, as well.
The bulk of the research on nematodes was done decades ago, Niblack adds. "We don't really know how nematodes interact with today's new hybrids.”
Real nematodes aren't as easy to see or detect as Ned. "If you have a nematode problem, the plant doesn't break out in pink polka dots,” she says.
Uneven growth across the field is one of the biggest symptoms of nematode issues.
Kurt Jones, Syngenta technical manager, calls nematodes the hidden pest. "In some cases you'll see stunting or yellowing, but other times there will be no symptoms,” he says.
Summer and fall are the best time for farmers to take soil samples, Jones adds.
Spray and Wash
No matter how busy the season, it's important to make sure spray equipment is cleaned between different applications, regardless of product.
Consider these tips from Kristine Schaefer, Iowa State University entomologist:
- Don't wait to clean. Wash out the sprayer as soon as possible after use. Sprayers can retain significant amounts of pesticide solution even after they are considered empty. Dried pesticides are harder to remove.
- Determine where to clean. Safely dispose of all rinsate so it doesn't contaminate water supplies.
- Use the right cleaner. Select cleaning agents based on the pesticide and formulation to be cleaned. Refer to the label for specific cleaning products to use. Some product labels recommend the cleaning solution stand in the sprayer for several hours or overnight.
- Clean all equipment parts. The tank is important, but pesticide residues are also on hoses, sumps, strainers, pump surfaces and other sprayer components.
- Check and clean strainers daily. Most sprayers have up to three different strainers. In addition, partly plugged strainers may create a pressure drop and reduce the nozzle flow rate.
- Practice safety. Wear the personal protective equipment required by the pesticide label when cleaning the sprayer. Chemical-resistant aprons and eye protection are good added measures.
- Read the pesticide label. Cleaning practices vary depending on equipment and products used.