You may never have heard of stunt nematodes, but that doesn’t mean that these microscopic worms aren’t affecting you. What are stunt nematodes? These destructive pests are among the plant parasites that cause the most damage to field and vegetable crops in the country. Once you understand the damage done by these pests, you’ll want to know how to prevent stunt nematodes from destroying your crops. Control is not easy though. Read on for a description of stunt nematode symptoms, plus a few tips on stunt nematode control.
What are Stunt Nematodes?
Stunt nematodes are not big bugs that you can readily spot on your veggie vegetation. They are tiny worms, microscopic, termed Tylenchorhynchus spp. by scientists. Stunt nematodes are parasites that damage the roots of vegetables in your garden, exposing the plants to various destructive pathogens in the soil. They are not limited to backyard gardens. In this country, these pests cause almost $10 billion in economic loss.
Stunt Nematode Symptoms
It’s not easy to pin down the financial loss caused by stunt nematodes. That’s because scientists don’t know enough about their characteristics and how they operate.
There are a variety of plant parasitic nematodes, including root knot nematodes, spiral nematodes, and needle nematodes. Like these other plant parasitic nematodes, stunt nematodes feed on plant roots. They can live both in the soil and on plant tissues and are able to infest a wide variety of different crops.
How to Prevent Stunt Nematodes
Every gardener wants to stop these worms from damaging his or her crops. So, if you are wondering how to prevent stunt nematodes from eating your veggie plant roots, you aren’t alone. Stunt nematode control is not easy, and the geographical spread of the worms depends on temperatures, soil types, and crop history.
It is more appropriate to think of stunt nematode management than stunt nematode control. First, put into practice the cultural practices that do not involve toxics, like proper sanitation and keeping your plants healthy. Only if these fail should you turn to chemicals.
Sanitation is essential if you find stunt nematodes in your plants. You need to plow under the infected plant and be sure to give healthy plants everything they need to thrive, include sufficient water and nutrients. Wash down your garden tools and equipment to prevent the spread of the infection.
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Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.
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