Stem Nematode-Fusarium Wilt Complex in Alfalfa as Related to Irrigation Management at Harvest Time


  • G. D. Griffin


A high moisture level in the top 10 cm of soil at time of cutting of alfalfa increased the incidence of plant mortality and Fusarium wilt in soil infested with Ditylenchus dipsaci and Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. medicaginis in greenhouse and field microplot studies. Ranger alfalfa, susceptible to both D. dipsaci and F. Oxysporum f. sp. medicaginis, was less persistent than Moapa 69 (nematode susceptible and Fusarium wilt resistant) and Lahontan alfalfa (nematode resistant with low Fusarium wilt resistance). In the greenhouse, the persistence of Ranger, Moapa 69, and Lahontan alfalfa plants was 46%, 64%, and 67% respectively, in nematode + fungus infested soil at high soil moisture at time of cutting. This compared to 74%, 84%, and 73% persistence of Ranger, Moapa 69, and Lahontan, respectively, at low soil moisture at time of cutting. Shoot weights as a percentage of uninoculated controls at the high soil moisture level were 38%, 40%, and 71% for Ranger, Moapa 69, and Lahontan, respectively. Low soil moisture at time of cutting negated the effect D. dipsaci on plant persistence and growth of subsequent cuttings, and reduced Fusarium wilt of plants in the nematode-fungus treatment; shoot weights were 75%, 90%, and 74% of uninoculated controls for Ranger, Moapa 69, and Lahontan. Similar results were obtained in the field microplot study, and stand persistence and shoot weights were less in nematode + fungus-infested soil at the high soil-moisture level (early irrigation) than at the low soil-moisture level (late irrigation). Key words: alfalfa, Ditylenchus dipsaci, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. medicaginis, interaction, irrigation timing, Medicago sativa, mortality, nematode, soil moisture, suppression.