Some Things You Need to Know About Root Knot Nematodes
- Author Darren Chan
- Published August 13, 2020
- Word count 522
Root-knot nematodes are generally all from the Meloidogyne species. Even though there are hundreds of species spread throughout the world, they all tend to cause the same types of problems. Root-knot nematodes inhabit the soil and attach susceptible plants and trees at the roots. Typically, an infestation is characterized by sudden wilting in the plants and reduced production of fruits and vegetables. If you look at the roots and parts of the stem buried in the soil, you will usually see knotted galls, or scars in these parts of the plant.
Problems for Humans and Animals
At the current time, well over 2000 different types of plants and trees can be destroyed by root-knot nematodes. It includes root vegetables, trees, and tomatoes. These parasites are so destructive. They account for approximately 5% of all seasonal crop losses. While they do not spread pathogens, and are generally not harmful to humans that come into contact with them, they are still deadly to plants.
Unfortunately, root-knot nematodes tend to be challenging to get rid of They have few natural predators, and can go beyond one foot below the surface of the soil to escape pesticides. Depending on where you live, it may not even be legal to spray the soil with pesticides in a way that will get rid of root-knot nematodes.
No matter whether you have a garden or farm, there are still some things you can do to get rid of these parasites. Today, many gardeners plant marigolds, corn, wheat, and rye in with other plants that are susceptible to infection. You can also rotate crops, or simply let the land lay fallow for at least one year to get rid of an infestation.
Many home gardeners today also cover moistened ground with clear plastic for several months during the summer season. It will heat the soil enough to kill off the nematodes, as well as their eggs. In most cases, you will still need to let the land stay fallow for at least one year to make sure that all of the parasites are gone. That said, if you wind up with a severe infestation in the middle of a growing season, you can still use this method to reduce the number of parasites as quickly as possible.
In many cases, root-knot nematodes lay their eggs on young plants that you buy from nurseries. Therefore, you will need to scrutinize all plants before you buy them. If possible, you may find it better to purchase seeds and start them in your own greenhouse. Depending on how you feel about genetically modified organisms, you may also want to look for plants or seeds that are resistant to this particular parasite.
At the current time, alfalfa crops in California are endangered by root-knot nematodes. If you happen to live near a farm or know that other neighbors with gardens do not select their nursery plants with care, it may be to your advantage to planting a few extra marigolds around your property. You can also ask your local cooperative extension if these parasites are currently causing problems in your local area.
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