Preplant fescue cover crop may thwart nematodes in peach orchards

11/29/2011 10:55:00 AM
By The Grower Staff

In the wake of tougher fumigantion rules and low fruit prices, peach growers may want to look into planting tall fescue as a cover crop to control rootknot nematodes.

Agricultural Research Service plant pathologists Andy Nyczepir in Byron, Ga., and Susan Meyer in Belltsville, Md., tested several tall fescue varieties against four species of rootknot nematode, according to a news release.

Meloidogne incognita and M. hapla from reproducing.

The fescue also reduced reproduction of M. javanica, but M. arenaria was still able to reproduce on it.

Preliminary data suggest that trees planted after a MaxQ cover crop are larger than those planted on unfumigated soil.

In the past, peach growers fumigated orchards before planting, then used a nematode-resistant rootstock.

But higher fumigation costs, coupled with low fruit prices has deterred some peach growers.

In addition, some growers have trouble fumigating at the right time of the year because it conflicts with other cultural practices.

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