How to Prevent Nematode Damage

Microorganisms are present in every soil. Multicellular roundworms, also known as nematodes, are one the most prevalent organisms in the soil. Although some nematodes can be beneficial, others could be detrimental to one's lawn. It's always important to determine which type of nematode is residing in the soil before taking action.

Life Cycle

A nematode's life cycles consists of six stages, including egg, immature, and adult stages. When it's warm, nematodes can complete their life cycle in 21 to 28 days. Nematodes cannot be seen without the help of a microscope; however, once you have a microscope, it's easy to identify the nematode's sex. Male nematodes have thin, lengthy bodies, while female nematodes can vary in shape. Some females may appear thicker, while others are more slender.

The root knot nematode is one of the most common nematodes. This particular roundworm can survive year round, living in the soil as eggs. When these eggs finally hatch, the immature nematodes will spread throughout a plant's roots. While nematodes feed and develop, the plant's cells will swell up.

Damage

Root knot nematodes can cause extensive root swelling in plants. Since it's impossible to spot a nematode without using a microscope, it's important to take note of any symptoms that could indicate a nematode infestation. This may include wilting, yellow leaves, stunted growth, and fewer leaves and fruits than healthier plants. You can also find an infestation by checking plant roots for swellings. To do this, you will first need to dig up any suspected roots and then wash them. Keep in mind that these symptoms are the most severe in a warm climate with sandy soils.

Looking out for these symptoms can help prevent a serious nematode problem, which could result in a plant's inability to receive nutrients. Swelling is another concern because if it breaks open, it will provide an entry way for disease-carrying microorganisms. These factors can contribute to a plant's death.

While other nematodes can cause similar symptoms, it's harder to identify what damage has been done. However, misshapen or underdeveloped roots may be a sign of a nematode problem. If you're uncertain about an infestation, you can collect a sample of the plant's roots and soil. You'll then send the sample over to a lab to be tested. They'll be able to identify the source of the infestation.

Control

Some plants, like certain marigold species, can eliminate nematodes. However, signet marigolds are ineffective. To protect your crops, you can also apply organic materials to the soil. This may include pear, manure, and compost. These materials help roots retain water and nutrients. This is especially important for plants that have suffered damage because they're more susceptible to nematodes. Using an irrigation system can also replenish the soil.

While these techniques can prevent damage, they will not get rid of nematodes. Unfortunately, no chemical nematicides or soil fumigants can provide relief from nematodes. Therefore, if you're dealing with an infestation, it may be best to call a professional lawn care service for additional help.

 
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