The 2012 drought and its effects on nematode populations

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With the lack of rainfall in most of the Corn Belt this growing season, many problems have surfaced surrounding the combination of drought stress and insect stress on corn plants. One of the most prevalent and often-missed corn pests is the nematode.

According to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, nematodes are the most numerous multicellular animals on earth and a handful of soil will contain thousands of them. Practices such as reduced tillage, decreased use of in-furrow insecticides and an increase in continuous corn production have contributed to their increasing populations and paved a pathway for greater destruction.

Little research has been done to determine the impact of drought on nematode populations. Some nematologists speculate that nematode damage could be greater in 2012 compared to previous years when rainfall was more prevalent during the growing season. This is because under stress, nematodes tend to focus on reproducing in order to limit the threat to their survival. Other nematologists believe that the drought will cause the nematodes to go to sleep to preserve their energy, or that the weather stress will ultimately cause them to die out. What we do know is that the presence of nematodes adds additional stress while plants are protecting themselves from a lack of moisture and excessive heat. Nematode root feeding causes stunted roots, which can be more harmful to a plant in dry soil conditions than in soils with adequate moisture. While there are no rescue treatments for nematodes, a seed treatment like Avicta Complete Corn nematicide/insecticide/fungicide will help prevent the risk of nematode damage before it occurs.

A combination of separately registered products, Avicta Complete Corn is designed to effectively safeguard corn seedlings from nematodes by killing the pest instantly, offering growers a true nematicide. Avicta Complete Corn also is proven to be consistent across all environmental conditions including various temperatures, moisture levels and soil pH levels to keep young corn plants protected against nematodes, insects and diseases even during years of low moisture like 2012.

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