Thursday, July 27, 2017

Nematodes: a Real and Invisible Threat

Nematodes are worm like micro-organisms that live in the soil; some even spend a large portion of their life cycle inside plant roots. There are many species that are beneficial, but there are many that are harmful. These non-beneficial types are called plant parasitic Nematodes. Plant parasitic Nematodes feed on turf grass roots, and they can expose weakened plants and more susceptible plants to other problems (including diseases). To my knowledge, Nematodes haven't gotten much professional consideration in Michigan; nonetheless, due to several factors, Nematologists feel the population is on the rise. Some experts believe the mild winters we have had in recent years have caused the population to increase; others argue that certain preventative chemicals used on golf courses years ago had a direct effect on Nematode proliferation. Another factor: the more topdressing golf courses are doing (Nematodes thrive in sand), the more these "critters" increase.

In light of these findings I decided to test all of the greens on the property to get a baseline of the amount and types of Nematodes we have so that each winter I can identify which populations are declining or rising.  Plus: before jumping to the decision to treat, it is important to get some baseline information so we have something to compare to year in year out; also, there are a couple of products available to control Nematodes, so it's important to have some objective data and criteria to narrow down our choices. Unfortunately, the Nematode threat is real, but so is the research which we can use to combat the threat.  I will keep you informed if any action is required. Below are a couple of pictures of a plant parasitic Nematode known as a Ring Nematode.

Viewed at 100X
Viewed at 400X

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