Most nematodes are highly beneficial, powering their way through fungi, bacteria, and other harmful soil microorganisms. On the other hand, a few nematodes, including root knot nematodes on spinach, are parasitic pests that can severely limit the plant’s ability to absorb water and nutrients. Once established, root knot nematodes on spinach are nearly impossible to get rid of, but it’s possible to gain a level of control over the microscopic marauders. Read on to learn more.
Recognizing Spinach with Root Knot Nematodes
It’s difficult to identify root knot nematodes on spinach with certainty and you may need to send a sample of your soil to a diagnostic lab to know for sure. However, there are certain signs that can give you a pretty good indication.
If you suspect spinach with root knot nematodes, dig up a plant and rinse the roots gently. Look for tiny lesions or galls, along with excessive growth of tiny roots. Otherwise, spinach with root knot nematodes generally display yellowing, wilted leaves, and stunted growth. Initially, wilting is worse in the hottest part of the day, but wilting eventually overtakes the plant.
Nematodes spread slowly, so you may notice the problem in a small area of your garden. It can take years but, eventually, they can take over a much larger area.
Treating Spinach Root Knot Nematodes
Spinach root knot nematode eggs overwinter in the soil and start hatching when temperatures warm to 50 F. (10 C.) in spring. When it comes to spinach root knot nematode control, sanitation is critical to prevent spread by infected plant matter. The pests are also spread by tools, water, wind, animals, and humans.
Here are some tips on treating spinach root knot nematodes.
Destroy infected plants carefully. Never place any infected plant matter on the compost pile. Clean tools and shoes thoroughly before moving from an infected area.
Control weeds. Certain weeds, including purslane, mustard, chickweed, and lambsquarters, are highly susceptible to infestation by nematodes.
Add organic matter to the soil regularly. Organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, improves soil structure and water retention, which makes plants stronger and more resistant. Organic matter also contains microbes that compete, often successfully, with nematodes.
Rotate crops. Don’t plant spinach in infected soil for at least three to four years. During those years, plant nematode-resistant crops like corn or onions. Consider growing spinach in containers filled with clean potting mix as an alternative.