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Control of Root-Knot Nematodes in the Home Vegetable Garden

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Nematodes–especially root-knot nematodes–cause major losses in vegetable crops in commercial farms, greenhouses, and home gardens in North Carolina. Root-knot nematodes are microscopic roundworms that can pierce the roots of certain plant species and lay their eggs inside the roots. This gives the roots a “knotty” appearance (Figure 1 and Figure 2) and results in a wilted or stunted appearance of the whole plant. Meloidogyne incognito, the southern root-knot nematode, is most common in North Carolina, but other species have been found recently. These pests occur in about two-thirds of the fields used for crops in the state.

Although many spring-planted vegetables such as beets, carrot, English pea, lettuce, potato, radish, and others are susceptible to root-knot nematode, they can be grown in infested soil and suffer only minor damage because nematodes are inactive at low soil temperatures (60°F). However, these same vegetables can suffer extensive damage when planted in

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