Understand an Emerging Pest: Nematodes

January 22, 2011 10:58 PM
Understand an Emerging Pest: Nematodes

Use the Systems Approach to understand emerging pests. In episode 11 of Corn College TV, Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist Missy Bauer takes a sharp look at a microscopic enemy–nematodes. These pests can’t be seen by the naked eye but can rob yields and profits from producers.

“Corn nematodes are a plant parasite,” Bauer explains. “They are a microscopic round worm that you can’t see in the soil. So the only way to know how present they are in the field is to take samples and send them to a lab.”
Even though they are unseen, the effects of nematodes are visually apparent in the field. They feed on the roots and damage the root mass so the plant loses depth of root.
“Plants will be stunted, and it may look like nutrient deficiency or herbicide damage, which makes it hard to identify,” Bauer explains. “You’ll see a circular area of damage with the worse damage in the center, and as you move out the damage is less.”
There are different types of nematodes, some live in the roots and some live in the soil.
“From a management perspective, we haven’t had a lot of options to control nematodes,” Bauer says. “We’ve used pesticides, like Counter, and now we have seed treatments, one is a nematicide and one is a biological control.”
Bauer says the key to controlling nematodes is protecting the plant early in the season.  
“Nematodes will start to attack within four to six weeks early in the season. We want to protect the crown roots,” Bauer says.

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