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Nematodes are active in fields where peanuts, cotton, corn and soybeans will soon be planted. Active nematodes now could be a significant threat for the next crop in the field.

Bob Kemerait, Plant Pathologist

March 21, 2024

4 Min Read

At a Glance

  • With the 2024 row crop season rapidly upon us, I always remind growers of opportunities that come only once.

To protect his 2024 crop, he was taking the battle to the nematodes. As Dr. Eric Prostko and I passed his tractor and planter moving slowly up Highway 91 in Miller County, Ga., we could see the logo “Counter 20G” boldly emblazoned on the side of every smart box. His decision to use a nematicide to protect his corn meant the farmer recognized nematodes were a problem in his fields. 

He recognized nematodes could take yield and profit from him. He recognized this battle had to be fought as he planted. Whether he chose to use Counter 20G, or Velum, or Propulse, or Averland FC, he was seizing on this one chance.

I asked my friend and colleague Dr. Cal Meeks, if he was going to attend my presentation to local farmers. He said that he would be unable to join me and that he had already heard me three times since the start of the year.  

“Besides, Bob,” he added.  “I already know what you are going to tell them. You are going to tell them they have one chance to get things right. I get it. I don’t need a fourth time.”  

He was not wrong. With the 2024 row crop season rapidly upon us, I always remind growers of opportunities that come only once; where the “die is cast” as the furrow is closed, and planters are moved to other fields.  

Nematodes elevated

In the opening days of March, I began to receive reports of elevated nematode counts from soil samples collected in mid-February.  Despite cold weather this winter, plant-parasitic nematodes have rebounded and are active in fields where peanuts, cotton, corn and soybeans will soon be planted.  Depending on the numbers and species, active nematodes now could be a significant threat for the next crop in the field. 

Farmers planting peanuts, cotton and soybeans have nematode-resistant varieties to choose from.  New for cotton farmers in 2024 are PHY 475 W3FE (root-knot and reniform nematode resistance), ST 6000 XTP (root-knot nematode resistance), DP 2349 B3XF (root-knot nematode resistance) and DG 3644 B3XF (root-knot and reniform resistance). 

Though the new root-knot nematode resistant peanut variety TifNV-HG will be in short supply this season, seed will become increasingly available to growers in the future.  

There are no “nematode-resistant” corn varieties.  

Growers planting any of these crops to a field “eaten up” with nematodes and who cannot (or will not) plant a resistant variety, should consider use of an effective nematicide. In addition to those mentioned earlier for corn, peanut and cotton growers can choose from the fumigant Telone II and in-furrow products AgLogic 15G, Velum, Averland FC (cotton and corn only), and Vydate CLV (and other formulations of oxamyl) to protect the crop.  Seed treatment nematicides such as COPEO and BIOst Nematicide 100 can also be helpful.

Tomato spotted wilt was a significant problem for many peanut farmers last year.   If not effectively managed, “mater wilt” can easily negate everything that goes into growing a peanut crop- from seed to irrigation to weed, insect, and disease management.  This disease takes no prisoners.  

Peanut Rx (peanutrx.org) is our risk management index that presents the tools to be deployed to protect a peanut crop.  These tools range from variety selection, to planting date, to use of an at-plant insecticide, to seeding rate, to tillage, etc.  

Updated annually by a team of researchers and Extension specialists from Mississippi State University, Auburn University, the University of Florida, Clemson University, and the University of Georgia, nearly everything that can be done to protect peanuts against spotted wilt disease must be done before the furrow is closed.

Fearmonger

Dr. Camp Hand, our brash, young cotton specialist at the University of Georgia, has told me, “Bob, you are nothing but a fearmonger.  You get growers so worked up with your cry of ‘one chance’ that they are afraid not to plant a nematode resistant variety or use a nematicide before closing the furrow.”  

To be honest, I greatly enjoy such banter, but I am not a “fear monger”.  My urgency is because there is only one chance to get some things “right,” and then a grower lives with the consequences of his decisions for the rest of the season.  

There are just some things you can’t go back and fix. 

Imagine you are a football coach who has to call every play before kick-off and then you sit the next four quarters of play on the sidelines with the marching band.  That’s how it is for a grower. 

After the furrow is closed, it is his crop against Team Bad Guys where their starting line-up includes the nematode siblings (“Root-Knot, “Reniform”, “Stubby-Root”, “Sting”, and “Columbia Lance”), Fusarium and tomato spotted wilts, seedling disease, and bacterial blight.  

You get one chance to call your plays against this team, Coach. Plan carefully and make your plays count.

Read more about:

Fungicide

About the Author(s)

Bob Kemerait

Plant Pathologist, University of Georgia

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