Prevalence and Potential Impact of Soil-dwelling Pests and Insect Pathogenic Nematodes in Strawberry Fields

in HortScience

Surveys mailed to strawberry growers in 1999 determined the state of nematode and root weevil awareness and practices for their management. Based on the survey response, 41 fields representative of various practices were selected for sampling throughout Connecticut. Adult black vine weevils (Otiorhynchus sulcatus) were found in only 3 fields, but notched leaves characteristic of their feeding were found in 40 fields, indicating a greater prevalence than perceived by growers. The percentage of notched leaves was positively correlated with years in production, suggesting that it took some time for the flightless weevils to migrate into and to increase to damaging numbers in fields. In fields older than 2 years, bifenthrin insecticide reduced leaf feeding compared to untreated fields or to fields treated with endosulfan or azinphos-methyl. Lesion nematodes (Pratylenchus penetrans) were detected in 31 fields and were present in about 58% of plants. When present, nematode numbers were greater in the margins of poor areas than in adjacent healthy plants (735 vs. 428 per g root, respectively). Lesion nematode numbers were also greater in replanted strawberries than rotated fields (760 vs. 304, respectively). Soil fumigation with methyl bromide, but not methyl dithiocarbamate or the combination of 1,3-dichloropropene and chloropicrin, reduced nematode densities in the following strawberry crop. Based on an economic model, nematodes reduced accumulated profit over 4 fruiting years by more than the percent loss of fruit yield. Beneficial insect pathogenic nematodes, predominantly Heterorhabditis bacteriophora and Steinernema feltiae, were found in 75% of fields to which commercially obtained nematodes had been applied, and to 14% of the remaining fields. Presence of naturally occurring insect pathogenic nematodes in strawberry fields may control root weevil populations and lead to more years of productivity.

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Contributor Notes

Corresponding author; e-mail James.LaMondia@po.state.ct.us.
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