Nematode Management Vital for Peach Production

Clint Thompson Georgia, Peaches, South Carolina

By Clint Thompson

Photo courtesy of Titan Farms.

Nematode management is essential for peach production in the Southeast.

According to Phil Brannen, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension fruit disease specialist, if growers do not control the microscopic pests, it can have severe repercussions for future seasons.

“You’ve got to take them into account. If you don’t take nematodes into account, there are several things that could happen,” Brannen said. “You could lose all of your trees to peach tree short life if you’re looking at ring nematodes. The trees could die outright from an excessive amount of root-knot nematodes. Yield and total production, tree health long term, all are going to be impacted by an excess of nematodes.”

Phil Brannen

The only way to control the pests is to manage them before planting trees. Growers should select good root stocks, specifically Guardian, that are resistant to the nematodes. Producers should also use fumigants that will kill as many nematodes as possible. Fumigants with Telone must be used before trees are planted.

Unfortunately, there is nothing growers can do for the tree after it has been planted.

“We still don’t have good post-plant nematicides. We’re testing those, trying to bring those to market with some of the companies, but so far, we’ve not been able to get those to work the way I want to see them work for peach production,” Brannen said. “We don’t have the control we need.”