Plant-parasitic nematodes adversely affect turfgrass health by debilitating the root system of susceptible turfgrass and decreasing water and nutrient uptake efficiency. Additionally, weakened turf favors pest infestation, especially troublesome weeds that necessitate herbicide applications. Over time, turf in the affected areas thins out and, with severe infestations, may die. The roots of turfgrass under nematode attack may be very short, with few, if any, root hairs, or they may appear dark and rotten. Turfgrass usually begins showing signs of nematode injury during additional stresses, including drought, high temperatures, low temperatures, and wear. Cultural practices and nematicides can help control nematodes.
Best Management Practices
- When nematode activity is suspected, an assay of soil and turfgrass roots is recommended to determine the extent of the problem.
- Divert traffic away from areas that are stressed by insects, nematodes, diseases, or weeds.
- Increase mowing height to reduce plant stress.
- Irrigate deeply but infrequently.
- Use proper amounts of N, P, and K fertilizers at the appropriate times of year.
- Reduce or eliminate other biotic and abiotic stresses when nematodes are compromising the root system and plant health.
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