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The role of plant-parasitic nematodes in reducing yield of sugarcane in fine-textured soils in Queensland, Australia

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Blair, B.L. and Stirling, G.R. (2007) The role of plant-parasitic nematodes in reducing yield of sugarcane in fine-textured soils in Queensland, Australia. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 47 (5). pp. 620-634. ISSN 0816-1089


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/EA05287


Damage to sugarcane caused by root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne spp.) is well documented in infertile coarse-textured soils, but crop losses have never been assessed in the fine-textured soils on which more than 95% of Australia’s sugarcane is grown. The impact of nematodes in these more fertile soils was assessed by repeatedly applying nematicides (aldicarb and fenamiphos) to plant and ratoon crops in 16 fields, and measuring their effects on nematode populations, sugarcane growth and yield. In untreated plant crops, mid-season population densities of lesion nematode (Pratylenchus zeae), root-knot nematode (M. javanica), stunt nematode (Tylenchorhynchus annulatus), spiral nematode (Helicotylenchus dihystera) and stubby-root nematode (Paratrichodorus minor) averaged 1065, 214, 535, 217 and 103 nematodes/200 mL soil, respectively. Lower mean nematode population densities were recorded in the first ratoon, particularly for root-knot nematode. Nematicides reduced populations of lesion nematode by 66–99% in both plant and ratoon crops, but control of root-knot nematode was inconsistent, particularly in ratoons. Nematicide treatment had a greater impact on shoot and stalk length than on shoot and stalk number. The entire community of pest nematodes appeared to be contributing to lost productivity, but stalk length and final yield responses correlated most consistently with the number of lesion nematodes controlled. Fine roots in nematicide-treated plots were healthier and more numerous than in untreated plots, and this was indicative of the reduced impact of lesion nematode. Yield responses averaged 15.3% in plant crops and 11.6% in ratoons, indicating that nematodes are subtle but significant pests of sugarcane in fine-textured soils. On the basis of these results, plant-parasitic nematodes are conservatively estimated to cost the Australian sugar industry about AU$82 million/annum.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Plant pests and diseases > Individual or types of plants or trees > Sugarcane
Live Archive:19 Feb 2024 00:16
Last Modified:19 Feb 2024 00:16

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