Monday, June 21, 2021

Reniform Nematodes Meet Their Match

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Rodney Moon, cotton farmer
Rodney Moon says the new PhytoGen reniform resistant varieties are a major breakthrough in managing high populations of this pest in his north Alabama cotton fields.
Third-generation north Alabama cotton farmer Rodney Moon just completed his 48th crop. He says he was raised in what many call “the cotton culture.”

“Cotton made things go around here,” Moon says. “It paid the bills, and in my case, it’s the only crop I really feel attached to. I farm 100% dryland cotton and have grown 100% PhytoGen cottonseed for the past 15 years. PhytoGen has high-yielding varieties with excellent seedling vigor and fiber quality.”

With the help of his long-time crop consultant, Bill Webster, the Alabama farmer prides himself on being able to deal successfully with challenging situations that affect his cotton crop.

“Bill knows his business very well,” Moon says. “I wouldn’t want to plant a stand of cotton without Bill and his crew to help.”

Reniform Nematodes Pose a Problem
However, Moon says extremely high populations of reniform nematodes in his cotton fields were a “tough nut to crack.” The Auburn University Soil Testing Laboratory classifies numbers over 200 reniform nematodes per 100 cc of soil as “high populations.” Moon has fields with 2,000-3,000 reniform nematodes per 100 cc of soil.

“I call them the silent robber,” he says. “Because they are almost microscopic, you can’t see them, but they are out there. When the numbers begin to get high, you will see symptoms in the cotton plant such as stunting, yellowing leaves and wilting. Reniform nematodes delay the crop. You may not lose a stand, but you lose some of the benefits of early growth and early fruiting. In the end, this damage results in yield loss.”

Moon says he used to manage them with aldicarb before it went off the market. He also says rotating with corn is helpful. But because he now grows 100% cotton, that is not an option for his operation.

“Once we stopped our corn rotation, the reniform nematode numbers started to build and steadily became worse,” he says. “That’s the situation I have gotten myself into. We tried a few products that gave us some help, but none of them provided a real solution.”

Reniform Resistant Varieties ‘Showed Out’
In 2019 and 2020, Moon trialed PhytoGen® brand varieties resistant to reniform nematodes in fields next to susceptible varieties.

“I saw a 250-pound yield increase with the reniform resistant varieties over the susceptible varieties,” he says. “Where I had those high reniform nematode numbers, the resistant varieties really showed out.

“In 2021, I plan to grow the two PhytoGen reniform resistant varieties I grew in 2020. They will be commercially available this year as PHY 332 W3FE and PHY 443 W3FE. They are strong varieties that graded middling last year with 37 staple, mic in the range and good leaf grades.”

In addition to their resistance to reniform nematodes, Moon appreciates the varieties having resistance to root knot nematodes and bacterial blight. PHY 332 W3FE also has tolerance to vert wilt.

“In our rolling topography, we have redder soil ridges on the hills and darker, better soils down in the flats,” he says. “We typically have vert problems on our best-yielding ground, so verticillium wilt tolerance is a big plus for us. It’s a pleasure to work with the PhytoGen people who are dedicated to making a better cotton plant.

“When you combine all the benefits I mentioned with WideStrike® 3 Insect Protection and the Enlist™ weed control system, the PhytoGen varieties offer the total package,” he says. “They are easy to manage and hard to beat. They make life pretty simple.”

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