Improving Nematode Management for Vegetable Crops

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By Jaci Schreckengost

Integrated nematode management for vegetable crops is an ongoing project at one University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences research center.

Johan Desaeger, an assistant professor of entomology and nematology at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC), said researchers are looking for more sustainable management strategies. Current research efforts include new in-field products as well as improved varieties.

Fumigants are the typical way to manage nematodes, said Desaeger. While fumigants provide relief from nematodes, they can also kill beneficial materials in the soil. Therefore, Desaeger believes it is important to try to find more sustainable ways to manage nematodes.

“There’s some new nematicides, some chemicals, some biological products that have recently been registered … We don’t have a lot of data,” he said. However, researchers expect some of the newly registered products are going to be safer for growers to use than past products.

Research is being conducted on these new products to evaluate their benefits for growers, Desaeger said. The research is being performed on tomatoes and cucurbit crops.

Desaeger said that variety research is being conducted in tomatoes and that certain varieties are tolerant to the root-knot nematode. This type of nematode is the most important kind, according to Desaeger. It causes galls, or knots, on the roots of the crops.

Root-knot nematode-tolerant varieties are frequently planted in California, but do not have the same popularity in Florida, said Desaeger. Researchers at the GCREC are studying how they can improve these varieties to make them more appealing to Florida growers.

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