New nematode pest found in Louisiana

Damage caused by the guava root-knot nematode on guava
Damage caused by the guava root-knot nematode on guava roots — photo by Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Bugwood.org

A new pest that attacks certain crops grown in Louisiana has been identified.

The root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne enterolobii (M. enterolobii), is a serious pest that has a high rate of reproduction and a wide host range, including soybeans, sugarcane and sweet potatoes, according to a news release from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. But there is limited information on how the pest would behave on host and non-host crops in the United States.

It has also been known to attack varieties of tomatoes, soybeans and sweet potatoes considered resistant to the Southern root-knot nematode species common in Louisiana.

M. enterolobii, also called the guava root-knot nematode, was first identified in the United States in Florida on ornamental nursery stock in 2001. In 2011, it was identified in North Carolina.

It was recently confirmed in one part of one field in the northern part of Morehouse Parish. After years of extensive statewide nematode surveys, this is the first time it’s been detected.

The Louisiana State University AgCenter will begin a statewide nematode survey to determine if M. enterolobii is in other areas of the state.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry already has a protocol in place and is currently working with the producer to prevent further spread of the nematode and monitor the situation.

“The nematode species is often transported by equipment,” LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain said in the release. “Cleaning soil off of equipment, including tires and footwear, before going to another field is one of the best ways to reduce the spread of this nematode.”

If you suspect this pest is on your property, contact your local county agent’s office or LDAF at 225-952-8100.

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