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Right Variety Can Help In Nematode Battle

Bryan Clenney has plenty of experience with sandy soils and nematodes where he farms in Baker and Miller Counties of southwest Georgia. One field in Baker County is so sandy that he’s nicknamed it the “Mojave Desert.”

“When you’re in that field, it looks like you’re at the beach – without the ocean,” Clenney says. “And that field is eaten up with nematodes. You better not leave a plow in that field; the nematodes might eat the sweeps off of it.”

Root-knot nematodes lower cotton yields by infecting plant roots and causing galling, which decreases the plant’s ability to uptake water and nutrients. With less water and nutrients, cotton plants begin to yellow and can drop leaves later in the season before the plant is finished producing mature fiber.

“Nematodes cost us yield, and I have seen times in dry years where varieties just couldn’t stand the nematode situation in certain sandy fields,” Clenney says.

In the past, Clenney used a one-two punch of three to four gallons of Telone two weeks before planting followed by five pounds of Temik side-dressed. With Temik no longer available, producers such as Clenney look for other ways to mitigate nematode damage later in the season.

Searching For Solutions

Bradley Enfinger, a consultant for Walton Ag Services, works with Clenney to find the best solution for his fields with heavy nematode pressure.

“Down here in these sandy soils with heavy nematodes, Telone works well, but we also need a variety with a very good nematode tolerance package to help us get through the entire season,” Enfinger says.

Last year on the “Mojave Desert” field, Clenney planted nematode-tolerant ST 4946GLB2 and yielded more than 1,300 pounds per acre. Stoneville offers two cotton varieties with a good nematode tolerance package, ST 4946GLB2 and ST 5458B2RF.

“In the past, the most you could get out of that field was 800 to 900 pounds,” Clenney says. “You’d be knocking it out with 1,000 pounds. With ST 4946GLB2 and the overabundance of rain, we produced the highest yields we’ve ever seen in that field.”

Crucial Variety Choices

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 2.34.51 PMEnfinger says that choosing a variety with a nematode tolerance package for sandier, nematode-infested soils could offer other benefits, including healthier plants that are less prone to other plant diseases.

“In past years, we’ve had nematode pressure so bad late in the season that the plant would start to yellow in August and then defoliate itself in September,” Enfinger says. “That also leaves you more susceptible to other problems late in the season, like stemphylium, so we want to keep that from happening.”

Rhea and Kaiser, which represents Bayer CropScience, provided information for this article.