Southern peas with root knot nematodes can suffer in multiple ways. The pathogen can damage the plants enough to reduce the harvest, but it can also make your peas vulnerable to other infections, including fungal and bacterial diseases. Know how to prevent and treat this pest to avoid heavy losses.
Symptoms of Southern Pea Root Knot Nematode Infestation
Root knot is just one type of nematodes of southern pea, but it is a common one that can cause a lot of damage. It is helpful to take steps to prevent an infestation, but you should also be aware of the signs and symptoms so that you can manage this disease early if it impacts your garden.
Because these nematodes attack the roots, the most definite signs of an infection are below the soil line. The characteristic symptom of root knot nematode is the formation of galls, or swollen bumps, on the roots. The worse the infection is, the more extensive the system of galls will be.
Symptoms of root knot nematodes above the roots include stunted growth and general unthriftiness, The leaves may discolor, wilt more easily in hot, dry weather than would be expected, and recover less quickly after being watered. You may also see characteristic signs of nutrient deficiencies because the infection interferes with nutrient uptake.
It is not always possible to prevent root knot nematodes, as these microscopic worms are common in soil, but preventative measures can help. One of the best ways to avoid southern pea root knot nematode is to use resistant varieties:
- Charleston Nemagreen
- Clemson Purple
- Magnolia Blackeye
- Mississippi Purple
- Mississippi Silver
You should also use only certified-disease free transplants in your garden for any plant, as many are susceptible to root knot nematode. But, without a resistant variety, prevention is very difficult due to the heavy presence of nematodes in all soils. There are, however, good management practices that can keep the worms in the soil from causing too much damage.
Crop rotation helps to prevent nematodes from becoming too established in one area of your garden. Fallowing is also a practice that helps control nematodes. When fallowing an area, turn the soil regularly to expose the nematodes to the sun. If you get a noticeable infestation of root knot nematodes, remove and destroy plants and their roots right after the harvest. Try planting marigolds near your vegetables, which deter nematodes.
You can also try chemical control, but using a few of the above organic control methods is often enough to keep nematodes in check. To promote healthy plants, add organic material and nutrients to the soil, so that even if nematodes attack, your vegetables will not be as affected.