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Good Time to Test for Nematodes

Good Time to Test for Nematodes
Treatment decision already made for this year.

Either you applied new Votivo as a seed treatment when you planted corn, or you didn't. Its job is to control various nematodes that could be holding back corn yields. The problem is two-fold- you had to make that decision before you planted corn, and you didn't know if you had nematodes or not. Here's a closer look.

There are no good ways to control nematodes in corn once the crop is planted. Votivo has proven effective as a nematicide when applied as a seed treatment. However, because it adds cost, not everyone chose to add it. Companies varied in their policies for adding and charging for treatments.

Seed Consultants, Ins., offered it with Poncho 1250 at an extra charge, says Dave Nanda, a crops consultant and director of genetics and technology for Seed Consultants. Some customers took advantage of it, primarily on elite hybrids. The theory was to give those hybrids the best chance possible to reach maximum yield potential.

Nematodes have traditionally been thought of in Indiana as a soybean pest. That is soybean cyst nematode. In recent years it became apparent that other nematodes attack corn, particularly in lighter soils. What's not known is how widespread nematode infestation might be.

The best time to check for it is to do soil samples for nematodes in June, Nanda says. Obviously, you've already made your decisions for the year as whether to apply the nematicide or not. What you're looking for by testing in June is looking ahead to making the most economical decisions next year. Plus being armed with information hat might explain any bobbles along the way in this year's corn crop.

Labs can test soil samples and determine if corn nematodes are present. Google the names of typical soil testing labs and see if they offer this service, and what fees apply. Also look for sampling directions, and for instructions on how to handle the samples once they're collected. It's different than handling samples for soil sampling for nutrient information.

Nanda suggests that even next year, the best way to tell if you have nematodes, after actual sampling, or if you have enough to pay for the seed treatment, is to leave check strips. He encouraged some farmers to leave check strips this year, and to harvest them separately and compare results. If the nematode helped, there should be something like a 6 to 8 bushel per acre yield increase, he notes. You can reach Nanda at: [email protected]. 

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