Virginia Cotton: Sample for Nematodes Before Freeze Hits

Recently emerged cotton plants. Photo: Kevin Hudson, Mississippi State University

There is nothing like a good frost to help us remember the season has changed.  The big issue that it reminds me of that we are at the end of the best nematode sampling time.

  • In Virginia as well as NC/VA State line counties, we have a different nematode situation than the one that is found further south.
  • The incidence as well as the populations of the So. Rt. knot nematode are lower. Our root knot nematode species is more often northern which is not a cotton pest. Our peanut rotation and perhaps our geography help explain this.
  • At any rate, even continuous cotton does not appear to cause a buildup on many soil types.
  • On the other hand, the sting nematode can be much more damaging and we do have this nematode on some of our lightest sand.
  • Some folks think nematodes only exist on the light soil, in the coastal plain, pretty much all our soil is light soil and we might find some nematodes on productive land.
  • There are many products and strategies designed to combat this pest, however a lot of our fields do not have yield limiting nematodes. For operations that look hard at cost, this is a key production component to address.
  • In addition, determining which species we have will have an impact on the strategies we implement for highest yield.
  • The conclusion for these ideas is obvious. Take a sample before we get a freeze. Also, sample all of your fields.
  • If you cannot get everything the first year, then target some productive as well as unproductive fields to start putting the story together.
  • Collect about a quart of soil with a soil probe. Place it in a plastic bag to preserve moisture and keep it out of the heat. Deliver samples to the TAREC in Holland.
  • Also, for the greater benefit, it will be helpful if everybody pulls just a few samples as a way of continuing to access the big picture for how nematodes are impacting our region by helping Dr. Mehl track this pest.

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