Non-chemical Control of Nematodes in Potatoes

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2005: $9,922.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Principal Investigator:
Monty Smith
Three S Ranch


  • Agronomic: potatoes


  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, continuous cropping
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, mulching - vegetative
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: green manures

    Proposal summary:

    Columbia root knot nematode (Meloidogyne chitwoodi), a soil-borne pest that has become a serious problem in U.S. potato production, causes internal discoloration of the potato and external blisters, rending the tubers unmarketable. In the last five to seven years, producers in Colorado's largest potato producing area, the San Luis Valley, have seen the nematode's populations increasing, and now a significant number of producers are infected with the pest. Potato producers in the Pacific Northwest, long troubled by the Columbia root knot nematode, have kept it in check but at fairly high cost -- around $250 per acre for commercial soil fumigants, which also kill beneficial organisms, a less safe environment for farm workers and increased fuel costs and soil compaction from the heavy machinery used to apply the fumigant. With this Farmer/Rancher grant, Three S Ranch, an irrigated potato and barley farm near Blanca, Colo., will conduct research over two years on non-chemical control of Columbia root knot nematode. Namely, the project will test the ability of several green manure crops -- sorghum-sudan, arugula, mustard and oil seed radish -- to suppress the incidence of the nematodes in Colorado potato fields. Similar work has been conducted in the Pacific Northwest, but the project coordinator says Colorado-specific research must be conducted to find green manures that can work locally. The research will also assess the value of plowing down the various green manures on soil quality and tilth. Research results will be disseminated through free brochures and during a PowerPoint presentation at the annual meeting of the San Luis Valley Potato/Grain conference held each February.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.