Nematodes dwell in the soil and are either harmful to pests or damaging to plants. For the sake of this blog, we'll only talk about the plant-parasitic organisms. Some nematodes actually spend their entire lives within the roots while others enter the root to feed and then leave.

It's a good idea to conduct a soil test to inspect for nematodes. Why? Oftentimes it's easy to mistake negative plant symptoms, such as yellowing and wilting, as a nutrient deficiency. However, these symptoms may be caused by nematodes just below the surface of the soil.

Types of Nematodes

Let's discuss two important nematodes here: root lesion nematodes and root knot nematodes.

Root Lesion Nematodes

Root lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus) are found everywhere from home gardens to agricultural crop fields. They affect a wide variety of plants and turfgrass, as well as fruit trees and ornamentals. However, they're more damaging to cereal crops and similar large acre crops.

Their form of attack is to pierce the roots using their stylet and enter the plant cells. Here, they extract all the cell contents and move on to other cells, leaving behind dead cells and nematode eggs.

By attacking the cells, they're effectively killing the plant as it has no way to uptake water and nutrients from the soil. Though root lesion nematodes are inactive during dry conditions, they become highly active again once the soil moisture has risen.

Root Knot Nematodes

Home gardens are the primary target for root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne). They attack more than 2,000 turf and plant species and live within the root systems, feeding and breeding new generations as they damage the plants.

When they enter the roots, they cause knots that block water and nutrient transport to the plant. These nematodes remain in the roots throughout their life cycle and lay eggs that produce new generations of plant-damaging soil pests.

Signs of Nematode Damage

Nematode damage looks similar to other damage caused by drought, nutrient deficiency and fungal disease, for example.

As mentioned earlier, a soil test can help to determine whether nematodes or other factors have caused plant and turf damage. Generally, you can tell it's nematodes by looking at the root systems.

Check for knots and lesions on the roots. There may also be symptoms like damaged root tips, stunted roots or even extreme root branching.

The most common signs aboveground are wilting and yellowing, including stunted plants and lower fruit and vegetable yields.

How to Control Nematodes

It's not always possible to plant nematode-resistant crops, especially if you only want to grow a few kinds of plants that are susceptible to these soil pests.

Following best cultural practices can help to control a nematode infestation, such as planting nematode-free stock or only using transplants from trusted sources.

Chemical applications are also an option in the fight against nematodes. We have a few suggestions to help treat the soil for nematodes and prevent further damage:

  • Curfew (special applicator applied)
  • Indemnify
  • Divanem
  • Todal
  • Zelto

Get Rid of Nematodes with WinProOnline

Killing and controlling nematodes isn't as difficult as you think when you have the right products from WinProOnline. Knowing the signs, following best practices, and using nematicides will help to keep the turf and plants protected. As a reminder, always conduct a soil test for the most accurate information about your soil health.

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