Did You Know? Crop damage thresholds for Lance Nematodes

Did you know what is lance nematodes? Do you want to know what damage lance nematodes could cause to your crops? Do you want to know the population density of lance nematodes that can cause damage to your crop? This short article answers these questions.

Lance nematodes (Hoplolaimus spp.) are a type of parasitic nematode that can cause significant damage to crops when occurring in a high population density. These nematodes are migratory ectoparasites and endoparasites. They can feed on the outside of the root before embedding themselves partially or completely within the root of their host. Lance nematodes have a wide host range, but cotton, soybean, and turfgrass are some of their most economically important hosts.

Lance nematode in the roots of bentgrass (stained red)., Photo: Jonathan D. Eisenback

In a recent study we conducted in Tennessee, we found that lance nematodes can be harbored by a range of crops, including cotton, soybean, corn, wheat, as well as weeds in fallow fields and cover crops. Weeds and cover crops may serve as alternative hosts, maintaining the nematode population.

Different population thresholds of lance nematodes can cause damage to different crops. In soybean, stunted root growth can occur with densities of 60 nematodes per 100 cm3 of soil. In cotton, densities of 75 nematodes per 100 cm3 can cause up to 25% yield loss. In our Tennessee study, the density of lance nematodes in Tennessee averaged 22 nematodes per 100 cm3 of soil, with only a few populations exceeding the threshold for damage.

In summary, lance nematodes can infect a range of crops, but only a few populations have the potential to cause significant damage. Monitoring nematode populations and implementing appropriate management practices can help prevent yield losses and ensure the health of crops.

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