The Q&A Archives: Nematodes

Question: Could you please explain the differences among nematodes? I read about beneficial nematodes but then am told that my tomatoes have been damaged by nematodes. How can I prevent nematode damage to my tomatoes? I read to use Burpee varieties that were resistant, but I would like to destroy them in the soil altogether. I understand Vapalm did a good job, but it is no longer sold. Do you know of any other chemicals? Joe Sheppard Fern Bch, FL

Answer: Yes, there are many types of nematodes in the soil --some good and some bad. Beneficial nematodes are sold to kill various soil grubs such as Japanese beetles grubs. In Florida on your sandy soils, you have lots of problems with other nematodes that infect tomatoes and many other crops. To remove the nematodes from the soil you can try a technique called soil solarization. What you do is smooth out part of the garden (removing plant debris and rocks) you want to treat, water it down and lay a 4 mm to 6 mm thick sheet of clear plastic over bare soil in summer for about 2-3 months and let the soil naturally heat up to over 140 degrees F. Seal the edges of the plastic with rocks or soil. This will kill or drive many nematodes away. You can also grow a cover crop of mustards and till them under before solarizing the soil to get an added benefit. Contact your local county extension office for more details on solarization in Florida. (904)879-1019..

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