In Summary
  • Avoid moving soil or plants from one garden to another as the two are carriers of the pest.

Root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp) are microscopic worms that live in soil and feed on the roots of many garden crops.

The nematode gets its name from causing swellings or knots on the roots of infected plants. Root-knot nematodes are deadly since farmers can’t easily notice their crops are attacked.

The pathogens are the most common and destructive nematodes. They produce dramatic symptoms and can substantially reduce crop yields.

Root-knot nematodes are found in all agricultural areas and can be difficult to control especially if they survive in weeds.

The symptoms

  1. The crops, which include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, radish or legumes, become stunted, have pale green or yellow leaves and they finally wilt.
  2. The disease appears in circular patches in a field or garden, but may become uniformly distributed when susceptible plants such as tomatoes are continuously planted in an area.
  3. Roots have swellings or galls and affected tubers have blisters or swellings. 
  4. Infested potatoes and tomatoes can become more susceptible to bacterial wilt, and symptoms are more severe when plants are also infected with fungal pathogens such as verticillium and rhizoctonia. 

Control strategies

Solarisation, which involves tightly placing a clear, plastic cover over the soil and letting it remain in the sun for temperature to rise and kill the pest is one of the effective strategies. For effective solarisation, moisten the soil, then cover it with a clear, plastic material and leave it in place for four to six weeks during the hottest part of the year.

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