Influence of Meloidogyne hapla on Alfalfa Yield and Host Population Dynamics


  • J. W. Noling
  • H. Ferris


Self-thinning in alfalfa, a dynamic process involving the progressive elimination of the weakest plants, was enhanced by Meloidogyne hapla. Alfalfa stand densities decreased exponentially with time and were reduced 62% (P = 0.05) in the presence of M. hapla. As stand densities decreased over time, mean plant weights increased at a rate 2.59 times faster in the absence of M. hapla. In a stepwise multiple regression analysis, 65% of the total variation in yield could be explained by changes in stand density and 85% by average weight of individual stems. Alfalfa yields were suppressed (P = 0.05) by M. hapla, with suppression generally increasing with time and as the nematode population density increased. Yield suppression was attributable primarily to the decline in plant numbers and to suppression in individual plant weights. Key words: self-thinning, plant competition, plant survival, yield determinant, root-knot nematode, Medicago sativa, growth suppression.