Foliar Nematodes in Florida Strawberries

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A nematode thought to be new in Florida was found recently on strawberry crops.

The foliar nematode is one area of research at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma, said Johan Desaeger, assistant professor of entomology and nematology.

After some research, Desaeger found this nematode is not new at all. He said he found reports from the 1920s and 1930s that discussed a similar situation to the one growers are facing now.

“I did find reports from that time that they had foliar nematodes on Florida strawberries,” Deseager said. “So almost a hundred years ago, those nematodes were here in Florida.” The reports stated that subsequent decades saw intermittent issues with foliar nematodes, but nothing suggested anything continuous, he said.

According to Desaeger, foliar nematodes were found on farms last year and again this year. He said the pest seemed to have a stronger presence last year than this year.

“It doesn’t look as bad as last year, but it’s definitely a concern,” Desaeger said. If this nematode is found on the crop, it can prevent or drastically reduce the number of fruit produced.

Desaeger said foliar nematodes typically like humid conditions. He believes the cold weather that Florida faced in January potentially helped decrease the pest population.

For management of foliar nematodes, Desaeger said that many growers have tried spraying products on the crops. He said there is not yet enough data to make suggestions or to give information on efficacy of these products.

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