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They also spread by anything that can carry particles of infested soil, including tools, boots, animals, and infected plants. Their roles in the garden vary. Some are soil dwellers that break down organic matter, especially in compost piles.

Use Beneficial Nematodes to Combat Insect Pests | Gardener's Path

These types actually combat a variety of pest species, including weevils, clearwing borers, cutworms, sod webworms, chinch bugs, and white grubs. Nematodes attack and kill these insects by either injecting deadly bacteria or entering the host, parasitizing, and then feeding on it. When purchasing and applying them to your garden, it is very important to select the right species because different kinds of nematodes are effective against different pests.

In addition, nematodes require moist, humid conditions and fairly warm soil to do their job well. Water all application sites before and after spreading nematodes and follow application instructions carefully. Type keyword s to search. Today's Top Stories. What Are Nematodes?

Texas AgriLife Extension Service

What Nematodes Look Like Unlike most other disease-causing organisms, plant-parasitic nematodes seldom produce any characteristic symptoms. Root nodules invaded by nematodes. Getty Images. Figures 6 and 7. Galls may Damage is often more grow as large as one inch in pronounced when plants are diameter where they merge, but under other stresses such as lack usually they are not much larger of water or nutrients or when than a pea. There are several damaged by other diseases or different species of root-knot insects.

Although nematodes nematodes in Alabama and rarely kill plants, they can drasti- several species may be present cally reduce plant growth and yields. Nematodes are usually confined to localized areas in the garden spreading very slowly under their own power; however, nematodes may be dispersed more rapidly by movement of infested soil through cultivation, on soil clinging to garden tools and tillers, in water, or on roots of transplants.

Using Plants for Nematode Control

Figure 6. Distinct knots, swellings, or galls visible on the root system of a to- mato plant infected with root-knot nematodes. Figure 8. White to yellow adult females of soybean cyst nematodes visible on the outside of a bean root. Figure 7. Root-knot nematode galls Figure 9. Distinctive egg-containing brown cyst dead soybean cyst nematode fe- on tubers of Irish potatoes. Have the soil from the Sanitation geographical region in the state. If possible, Sanitation aids in reducing root-knot nematodes can cause collect soil in the fall when plant parasitic nematode popula- damage to vegetables.

These nematode populations are highest. Nematode infected plants species include dagger, reniform, The worst time to sample is in including roots should be ring, stubby root, stunt, sting, root late winter or early spring. With Nematode populations are at destroyed as soon as the vegeta- the exception of the cyst nema- their lowest during this period bles have been harvested. This tode, which produces distinctive and may not be detected in the practice can be particularly egg-containing cysts on roots sample.

Take samples with a soil effective in small gardens. Plow Figures 8 and 9 , identification probe or hand shovel in a the garden immediately after the of these other nematode species zigzag pattern across the garden final harvest to bring plant roots requires laboratory analysis. Work the soil in of soil. Mix samples thoroughly this manner two to four times Nematode management and remove 1 pint of soil for during the winter. The drying requires long-term planning.

No laboratory analysis. Refer to action of the wind and sun will current control practice will permanently eradicate nematodes from the garden. Nematodes can be effectively managed in the home garden by the use of one or more of the following practices.

Root-Knot Nematode Control for Home Gardens

Figure Left, soybean cultivars resistant to soybean cyst nematode compared Use of Resistant to various susceptible cultivars, center and right. Varieties destroy many nematodes and should never be grown in the Resistant varieties offer the their eggs, thus preventing same location more than once easiest, least expensive, and most further buildup. Vegetable roots every three years. If space is effective method of controlling left in the soil through the winter available, it is a good practice to nematodes in the home garden serve as hosts on which nematodes rotate garden sites.

Where garden Figure Unfortunately, resis- can maintain or increase their space is limited, rotate related tant vegetable varieties are only population for the following year.


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For specific family number of crops. When fallowing, it is important to keep the soil moist to induce egg hatch and to control weeds on which nematodes can survive. As a result, eggs will hatch, but the nematodes will die if there is nothing to feed on. You will need to repeat fallowing when you begin to see root injury again, as nematodes can build up to damaging levels even in a single season. A good way to conduct a fallowing program is to split the garden into thirds and fallow one-third every year or two on a rotating basis. If you intend to grow woody plants in a nematode-infested area, consider fallowing the soil for 4 years before planting.

You can use solarization to temporarily reduce nematode populations in the top 12 inches of soil, which allows the production of shallow-rooted annual crops and helps young woody plants become established before nematode populations increase. For effective solarization, moisten the soil, then cover it with a clear, plastic tarp. Leave the tarp in place for 4 to 6 weeks during the hottest part of summer. For a complete discussion of solarization, see Soil Solarization listed in References. Plant summer vegetables as early as possible in spring before nematodes become active.

Plants with larger root systems, even though nematode-infested, might be able to remain productive longer. It is also helpful to remove annual vegetables, including their roots, as soon as harvest is over, to prevent nematodes from feeding and breeding on root systems. Certain marigolds, Tagetes species, suppress root knot and lesion nematodes.

Avoid signet marigolds, T. The effect of marigolds is greatest when you grow them as a solid planting for an entire season. To prevent marigold seed from getting in the soil, cut or mow the plants before the flowers open. As with other cultural control methods, nematode populations rapidly will increase as soon as you grow susceptible crops again. You can add various organic amendments to the soil to reduce the effect of nematodes on crop plants.

The amendments—which include peat, manure, and composts—are useful for increasing the water- and nutrient-holding capacity of the soil, especially sandy soils. Likewise, more frequent irrigation can help reduce nematode damage. In either case, you will have just as many nematodes in the soil, but they will cause less damage. Dreistadt, S. Clark, and M. Oakland: Univ. Elmore, C.

Stapleton, C. Bell, and J. Flint, M. Authors: E. Ploeg, Nematology, UC Riverside.

What Nematodes Look Like

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Figure 1.