Spatial Patterns of Belonolaimus spp. Among and Within Citrus Orchards on Florida's Central Ridge


  • L. W. Duncan
  • J. W. Noling
  • R. N. Inserra
  • D. Dunn


A survey was initiated to determine the incidence of Belonolaimus spp. (sting nematodes) in citrus orchards in the central ridge region of Florida, following widespread damage by these nematodes to young trees replanted after freezing weather in 1989-90. Sting nematodes were detected in 50% of 210 samples and in 64% of 84 orchards surveyed. More orchards in Polk County were infested with sting nematodes (82%) than in counties to the north (36%) or south (48%). Principal component analysis of morphometric data separated six of seven sting nematode populations in northeastern Polk County from six populations in adjacent regions. Stylet:tail ratio for nematodes in northeastern Polk County tend to be 1.0 and were 1.0 for all other populations. Patchiness of nematodes within an orchard was associated with stunted trees (23% smaller), reduced root mass density (25% lower), and low fruit yield (57% reduction). Soil texture did not vary among trees of different size in the orchard, but soil water potential between irrigation events was highest beneath small trees with low root mass density. Results of the survey indicate that the incidence of sting nematodes in orchards on the central ridge is much higher than previously estimated and that sting nematodes can cause substantial damage in replanted orchards. Further research is needed to evaluate the significance of sting nematode population variability and its relationship to citrus crop loss in Florida. Key words: Belonolaimus longicaudatus, citrus, crop loss assessment, ecology, nematode, nematode survey, soil moisture, spatial distribution, spatial pattern, sting nematode.