Reproduction of <I>Meloidogyne incognita</I> on Winter Cover Crops Used in Cotton Production


  • Patricia Timper
  • Richard F. Davis
  • P. Glynn Tillman


cotton, Gossypium hirsutum, management, Meloidogyne incognita, southern root-knot nematode, winter cover crop.


Substantial reproduction of Meloidogyne incognita on winter cover crops may lead to damaging populations in a subsequent cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) crop. The amount of population increase during the winter depends on soil temperature and the host status of the cover crop. Our objectives were to quantify M. incognita race 3 reproduction on rye (Secale cereale) and several leguminous cover crops and to determine if these cover crops increase population densities of M. incognita and subsequent damage to cotton. The cover crops tested were `Bigbee' berseem clover (Trifolium alexandrinum), `Paradana' balansa clover (T. balansae), `AU Sunrise' and `Dixie' crimson clover (T. incarnatum), `Cherokee' red clover (T. pratense), common and `AU Early Cover' hairy vetch (Vicia villosa), `Cahaba White' vetch (V. sativa), and `Wrens Abruzzi' rye. In the greenhouse tests, egg production was greatest on berseem clover, Dixie crimson clover, AU Early Cover hairy vetch, and common hairy vetch; intermediate on Balansa clover and AU Sunrise crimson clover; and least on rye, Cahaba White vetch, and Cherokee red clover. In both 2002 and 2003 field tests, enough heat units were accumulated between 1 January and 20 May for the nematode to complete two generations. Both AU Early Cover and common hairy vetch led to greater root galling than fallow in the subsequent cotton crop; they also supported high reproduction of M. incognita in the greenhouse. Rye and Cahaba White vetch did not increase root galling on cotton and were relatively poor hosts for M. incognita. Only those legumes that increased populations of M. incognita reduced cotton yield. In the southern US, M. incognita can complete one to two generations on a susceptible winter cover crop, so cover crops that support high nematode reproduction may lead to damage and yield losses in the following cotton crop. Planting rye or Meloidogyne-resistant legumes as winter cover crops will lower the risk of increased nematode populations compared to most vetches and clovers.