An Integrated Approach to Managing Nematodes

April 23, 2017

Burlap sack of potatoes

Nematodes are a common problem for potato growers in the Pacific Northwest. These microscopic roundworms feed on plant roots and transmit diseases, causing a variety of symptoms.

But solutions exist that can help to reduce crop damage, treat infestations in the current season and prevent infestations from remaining in the field for the next season.

“To protect potatoes from nematodes throughout the season, implementing an integrated management system is critical,” said Steve Olson, senior product manager at Crop Science.

A Pest of Many Varieties

Root-knot nematodes are one of the most widely found varieties of nematodes and affect numerous crops, including potatoes. Their larvae invade roots or tubers and establish feeding sites, which causes reduced plant vigor and blemishes on tubers. As their name suggests, root-knot nematodes can also cause hard, swollen knots to form on plant roots.

Another type of nematode commonly found throughout potato-growing regions is the golden nematode, which feeds on plant roots and develops into swollen cysts at the feeding site. These nematodes get their name from the golden-yellow stage they pass through before becoming the cyst, according to the University of Nebraska.

Treating Nematodes to Protect Potato Quality and Yield

One cultural practice is early harvesting of potato varieties that mature quickly. The longer tubers remain in the field, the more likely nematodes will have an effect on the crop. Ensuring fields have the proper balance of nutrients and proper fertilization can also help to improve plant strength, resulting in reduced nematode impact.

Crop rotation can also provide a solution that helps reduce nematode populations from fields. A few examples of non-host crops include wheat, corn and certain types of oil radish.

Chemical options to help manage nematodes also exist. With the right foliar spray, potato growers can protect their crop against nematodes and increase the quality and quantity of their seasonal harvest.

Movento® insecticide’s two-way systemic action moves throughout the entire plant system, allowing for applications to the leaves, providing protection from above-ground pests. It also moves to the roots to protect plants from nematodes.