How to Identify, Control, and Deal With Root-Knot Nematodes

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If you pull a dying plant and find a bulb-like lump on the roots, you may have a violation of root-notch nematodes.

You cannot see these microscopic pests without a microscope, making early detection almost impossible. They quickly capture the plants and infect the roots in no time. Treatment options are minimal, so getting rid of them is difficult.

If you think you have parasitic nematodes in your garden, keep reading to find out what you can do to help your plants.

What are root-not nematodes?

A quick glance at their name can tell you that these pests infect the roots of your plant. Nematodes are a form of roundworm, and there are over 25,000 different species. Most of them are beneficial and do not cause any problems, but some are harmful and dangerous to your garden.

Nematodes are divided into two groups: predators and parasites. Predatory nematodes are what you want; They seek out and attack other garden pests, such as squash vine borers and cutworms. These are your friends

Root knots are in the nematode parasitic category. It is impossible to see these pests with your naked eye; They are subtle, which makes them impossible. They attack and eat living plant matter. Since you cannot see them before damage is done, the gardener usually does not perform a quest until it is advanced.

Nematodes live only in soil; You will not see them on the leaves. They are quite common; If they attack a large plant like a tree, they will not disturb it much. But if they infect a small plant like a pea vine, it leads to disaster.

These pests attack a large range of food crops, bushes, trees, and more. Most parasitic nematodes are opportunistic, but some seek their favorite breakfast.

Root-not nematode lifecycle

It is important to understand the life cycle of these nematodes, but it is complex and is broken up into several stages.

Initially, an adult root-knot nematode leaves behind a gelatinous mass on the plant’s root system. This is where it lays eggs. An adult nematode lays up to 1,000 eggs – isn’t that crazy? This is why they are capable of many at such quick rates.

Now the egg is the embryonic stage, and it is when the insect goes through its first juvenile stages. First, the fetus begins to eat the egg that surrounds it; They do not hatch. They eat out of their own way, and by the time it hatches out of the egg, it enters a second stage, which is when they become a problem for your plants.

During the second phase, nematodes start eating through the roots of the plant. This causes the growth of root gulls, which look like a large, bulb-like mass. This form because the plant is doing its best to recover the root system. Unfortunately, nematodes continue to eat through the roots.

Then, juvenile nematodes bury themselves in gulls, and there they proceed through the third and fourth stages. After that, nematodes emerge as adults. At this point, the cycle begins as the adults lay eggs.

Plants that eat root-not nematodes

Nematodes eat only living plant material, and they only attack roots rather than parts of plants above the ground. If you have holes in your fruit, it is not due to these pests.

It is impossible to list all the plants they like to eat; If it is, then chances are they are going to take a bite. Some of the plants most affected by these pests include:

  • African violet
  • Banana tree
  • Legumes
  • carrot
  • Citrus tree
  • Cucumbers
  • eggplant
  • Hops
  • salad
  • Lilacs
  • Okra
  • Olive
  • onion
  • Peas
  • Peach trees
  • peanut
  • Pear tree
  • Black pepper
  • Plum tree
  • potato
  • pumpkin
  • Raspberry bushes
  • Red clover
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Sunflower
  • tomatoes
  • Walnut Tree
  • Watermelon

Do not let this list scare you! Dozens of nematode resistant plants are out there. Take a look at the back of your seed packet to see if you have a resistant variety. They handle an infection much better.

Symptoms of root-not nematode infection

These parasitic nematodes cause great harm to your plants as they chew through roots and stems. Some symptoms of a violation include:

  • Unexplained yellowing of the plant
  • stunted growth
  • Weak looking plants
  • Susceptibility to plant diseases

How to stop root-not nematodes

When it comes to nematodes, your best bet is to actively use preventive measures to keep them away from your garden. There are many techniques that you can try that work well. If you use some of these, then you should be successful in keeping these pests out of your garden.

Root-knot nematodes are one of the most frustrating types of pests because they are impossible to see, but they are causing problems with you! Try some of these preventive measures to prevent these pests from finding your garden.

1. Use different fertilizers in your soil

Some gardeners swear by mixing neem seed meal, crab meal or oyster shell flour in the soil to prevent nematodes. These are fertilizers, but they are also soil builders who fight these pests.

Neem seed meal is made from leftover manure after making neem oil. It naturally reduces pests, and when it breaks down in your soil, it adds small amounts of nitrogen.

Crab food brings beneficial microorganisms to your garden that fight parasitic nematodes. At the same time, this fertilizer strengthens the cell walls of the plant, so they begin to resist pests on their own. This is a great tool in your gardening toolkit. Pick up something from the brand Down to Earth on Amazon.

Oyster flour is similar to diatomaceous earth, although it is less effective when wet. This makes the soil less inviting for nematodes to travel.

2. Try Black Walnut Leaves and Hull

You might know that black walnut leaves and hulls have a compound called juglone. This compound is an effective killer of root-notch nematodes. The problem is that it also has negative effects on some plants, so you have to be careful while using it.

The best way to use these in your garden is to find some fresh walnut tree leaves or smoked hulls and spread them as a thick layer on your bed. Keep turning to help it turn into compost, and slowly, juglone compounds enter the soil. It takes up to six months for the compounds not to be toxic to other plants in your garden. At that time, you can plant saplings in your garden.

Some plants are not affected by juglons, so you can use this technique without taking additional steps. These plants include onions, beets, squash, melons, carrots, parsnips, beets, and corn.

3. Try Soil Solarization

Never heard of soil solarization? It is a fancy word that means that you heat your soil using the sun, but there are some serious considerations before using this method.

The problem with soil solarization is that it kills everything in your garden – nematodes (predators and parasites), fungi, bacteria and beneficial insects. This is far from a good thing, so if you want to use this method, it needs to be a last resort.

Here’s how you use this method.

  1. Deepen the soil to a depth and level it well.
  2. Moisten the soil evenly and put a sheet of clear plastic on top. Ensure that it is safe and will not be torn by large gusts of wind.
  3. Keep this plastic in the hottest months of the year, usually in summer, for a minimum of two to three months.
  4. After doing so, it is necessary to add beneficial fungi, bacteria and nematodes back to the soil. You can order these online or check your local garden nursery.

For more detailed information, see our guide.

4. Plant Resistant Varieties

Look for plants that are marked with N on the seed packet. These are resistant varieties; Many seed suppliers sell these. If they perform contracted nematodes, the violations are generally mild.

5. Crop rotation and companion planting

It is important to use methods such as crop rotation and companion planting to prevent nematodes. Some strains are most selective about the plants they eat, and marigolds are one of the best companion plants to ward off these pests. Try to add some marigolds to your garden beds; These flowers are the most beneficial to add to the veggie garden.

Can you treat root-not nematode infection?

There are only a few organic gardening solutions to get rid of root-notch nematode infections. By the time the gardener discovers the problem and identifies the pests, it is usually too late to cure the problem.

There are also some nematicides available, but they are often used for commercial agriculture rather than home gardening uses.

Here are two options that you can consider buying to use in your garden.

1. Geraniol Compound

These nematides are made from geranium oil. These are the most common selections by gardeners; Producers Trust Nematode Control and EcoClear Stop Bugging Me! There are two biological options. Both of these use geraniol oil, but Growers Trust uses beneficial bacteria, and Eco Clear also uses cinnamon oils.

2. Quilja saponaria compound

Try to say quilja saponaria fast. It is made from the root of a soap bark tree; This type of nematide uses saponins from soap bark trees to dramatically reduce nematode populations. Check your local gardening store to see if you can find an option for you.

3. Azidirachine Products

Another popular option is any product that uses azadirachtin extracted from neem oil, such as Azamax. This product is not going to work on serious infections; It is best if you somehow, quickly catch the infection. It also works against other pests, such as thrips, aphids and spider mites.

Apart from some nematides, there is no way to get rid of root-notch nematodes in your garden. This is why these pests are incredibly frustrating for gardeners.

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