Effect of Mowing Cotton Stalks and Preventing Plant Re-Growth on Post-Harvest Reproduction of Meloidogyne incognita

Ping Lu, Richard F. Davis, Robert C. Kemerait

Abstract


The southern root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) is a major parasite of cotton in the U.S., and management tactics for this nematode attempt to minimize population levels. We compared three post-harvest practices for their ability to reduce nematode population levels in the field, thereby reducing initial nematode population for the next year’s crop. The three practices tested were: 1) chemical defoliation before harvest plus cutting cotton stalks after harvest, 2) chemical defoliation plus applying a herbicide to kill plants prior to cutting the stalks, and 3) chemical defoliation without cutting stalks. Experiments were conducted in both the greenhouse and in the field. The greenhouse experiments demonstrated that M. incognita reproduction (measured as egg counts and root gall rating indices) was significantly greater when stalks were not cut. Cutting stalks plus applying herbicide to kill cotton roots did not significantly reduce nematode reproduction compared to cutting stalks alone. In field experiments, cutting stalks reduced egg populations and root galling compared to defoliation without stalk cutting. In a greenhouse bioassay which used soil from the field plots, plants grown in soil from the defoliation only treatment had greater root gall ratings and egg counts than in the stalk cutting plus herbicide treatment. Therefore, we conclude that cutting cotton stalks immediately after harvest effectively reduces M. incognita reproduction, and may lead to a lower initial population density of this nematode in the following year.

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