Sample for nematodes now when numbers are the highest

soutehrn root-knot nematode galling
Southern root-knot nematodes cause galls on soybean roots, causing plant decline and even death under severe conditions — photo by Travis Faske, Unviersity of Arkansas

Southern root-knot nematodes can harm the growth and development of soybean plants. What makes nematodes a serious issue is that unlike most pests, nematodes can’t be seen and they can significantly affect the success of the crop.

Often times, the presence of nematodes are detected by looking at the plants, which will go from green to dead. But by that time, it is too late to do anything about the issue. A soil sample is often required to confirm the type of nematode effecting a grower’s field.

Through the investment of checkoff funds, the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board collaborated with the Arkansas Nematode Diagnostic Lab to offer no-cost surveys across the state. The results of that work determined the problem is present in every soybean-producing county in the state.

Nematodes can do damage in a number of ways, including a reduction of plant water uptake by 50 percent. Nematodes also reduce the nutrient uptake. This can make summer growth more difficult as it causes more stress on the plants. Even if producers water the plants often, the nematodes will maintain power over the plants.

Researchers rely on soil samples to assess the nematode presence and/or impact. Each sample taken can reflect the state of the soil per 20 to 40 acres.

Travis Faske, University of Arkansas associate professor of plant pathology, has found that fall is the best time to conduct soil sampling, because the population is at its greatest during that time of the year.

Faske says that no application can ensure the protection of the plant, but monitoring the soil every few years to analyze the effectiveness of rotation practices is an effective tactic.

According to his research, there are options for growers battling nematodes. Rotation crops are often a good approach to managing nematode issues, but growers have several options that work within their operations.

For more information about nematode management, click here to view the related chapter in the Arkansas Soybean Production Handbook.

The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board contributed this article.

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