Effect of Winter Cover Crops on Nematode Population Levels in North Florida

K.-H. Wang, R. McSorley, R. N. Gallaher


Two experiments were conducted in north-central Florida to examine the effects of various winter cover crops on plant-parasitic nematode populations through time. In the first experiment, six winter cover crops were rotated with summer corn (Zea mays), arranged in a randomized complete block design. The cover crops evaluated were wheat (Triticum aestivum), rye (Secale cereale), oat (Avena sativa), lupine (Lupinus angustifolius), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa), and crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum). At the end of the corn crop in year 1, population densities of Meloidogyne incognita were lowest on corn following rye or oat (P = 0.05), but no treatment differences were observed in year 2. Wheat was a good host to Paratrichodorus minor, whereas vetch was a poor host, but numbers of P. minor were not lower in vetch-planted plots after corn was grown. The second experiment used a split-plot design in which rye or lupine was planted into field plots with histories of five tropical cover crops: soybean (Glycine max), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), sorghum-sudangrass (Sorghum bicolor × S. sudanense), sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea), and corn. Population densities of M. incognita and Helicotylenchus dihystera were affected by previous tropical cover crops (P = 0.05) but not by the winter cover crops present at the time of sampling. Plots planted to sunn hemp in the fall maintained the lowest M. incognita and H. dihystera numbers. Results suggest that winter cover crops tested did not suppress plant-parasitic nematodes effectively. Planting tropical cover crops such as sunn hemp after corn in a triple-cropping system with winter cover crops may provide more versatile nematode management strategies in northern Florida.


crop rotation; cropping systems; helicotylenchus dihystera; meloidogyne incognita; mesocriconema ornata; m. sphaerocephala; nematode management; paratrichodorus minor; pratylenchulus brachyurus; p. scribneri; root-knot nematode; sustainable agriculture; weeds

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