Effect of Ditylenchus dipsaci on Alfalfa Mortality, Winterkill, and Yield


  • R. H. Boelter
  • F. A. Gray
  • R. H. Delaney


Ditylenchus dipsaci-infected and noninfected alfalfa plants in a naturally infested field were studied from July 1980 to September 1982. Forty-one percent of the plants died during the study. Ninety-seven percent of the plants that died were infected with D. dipsaci. Sixty-nine percent of the observed mortality occurred during winter. Forage yield of infected plants was significantly lower than yield of noninfected plants at each harvest. Stored carbohydrates in infected plants were significantly lower than in noninfected plants. In a controlled environment test, significantly greater mortality occurred in frozen severely infected plants than in frozen noninfected plants, while no mortality occurred in severely infected or noninfected plants that were not frozen. Both forage yield and stored carbohydrates were significantly lower in severely infected than noninfected, non-frozen plants. Mortality in greenhouse-grown plants that were transplanted to field plots was significantly greater in D. dipsaci-infected plants than in noninfected plants after one winter. Key words: alfalfa stem nematode, Medicago sativa, carbohydrate reserves.