Pest Profile: Root Lesion Nematodes

Root lesion nematodes can frustrate corn producers throughout the growing season, damaging crops and wrecking yields.

They've been called the "hidden enemy." Since they are almost impossible to detect without soil analysis by trained professionals, damage by root lesion nematodes in corn is often misdiagnosed as herbicide injury or nutrient deficiency.

Nematodes can decrease corn yields by 10 percent to 75 percent in severe instances.

In fact, corn plants could be suffering from restricted performance of their root systems caused by these pests. According to the University of Illinois Extension, overabundance of root lesion nematodes in the soil leads to damage that exacerbates other stresses faced by the plant.

"Very few farmers tell me they have a corn nematode problem," says Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist Missy Bauer. "But we find nematode damage on many field calls. Often, it is misdiagnosed as something else, such as herbicide injury.”

An Invisible Drain on Yield

According to research by Ann MacGuidwin, PhD, a University of Wisconsin plant pathologist, root lesion nematodes can cause yield loss even without visible aboveground symptoms present.

She also reports that nematode damage is on the rise in corn, the result of a number of changes in farming practices. Rotation reduction is one example, with growers implementing more corn-on-corn rotation. Reduction in the use of organophosphate and carbamate insecticides is another. And with more planting of insect-resistant corn, there’s been a reduction in the use of at-plant soil insecticides, another contributing factor.

Poncho/VOTiVO seed treatment combines the most trusted seed-applied insecticide for corn with the most revolutionary, complete nematode protection on the seed, using a unique biological mode of action to ward off root lesion nematodes.

Protecting Corn Roots

Typically, root lesion nematodes move deeper into the ground, out of the reach of tillage, two to three weeks into the growing season. Crop Science has developed a seed treatment that offers dual protection against a range of early season insects like black cutworms, and also delivers powerful protection against a wide variety of nematodes.

For most of the past decade, Poncho seed-applied insecticide was the top-selling product of its kind in corn. Crop Science has now combined Poncho with VOTiVO seed treatment to provide a powerful broad-spectrum solution for corn growers. A revolutionary advance in nematode control, Poncho/VOTiVO includes a bacteria strain that colonizes the root surface of the corn plant and denies multiple nematode species from accessing feeding sites on the root. This living barrier actually grows with the corn, protecting the delicate vascular system of the plant and bringing healthy corn to harvest.

Talk to your local Bayer representative about how Poncho/VOTiVO can protect your cornfields from yield-robbing infestations of root lesion nematodes and other nematode types.

Works Cited

  • "Hidden Threats." Votivo. Bayer CropScience, n.d. Web. 8 Aug 2011.
  • MacGuidwin, Ann. "Profiling Root Lesion Nematode Pests of Corn." Department of Soil Science. University of Wisconsin, 2009. Web. 9 Aug 2011.
  • Niblack, Terry. "More Details on Corn Nematodes." The Bulletin. University of Illinois Extension, 15 May 2003. Web. 8 Aug 2011.
  • Smith, Darrell. "Whip Corn Nematodes." AgWeb 15 Jan 2011: n. pag. Web. 7 Aug 2011.
  • Klein, Jeffrey D. "Ending Hunger." USAToday April 2011: 10. Print. 

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