The Potential of Five Winter-grown Crops to Reduce Root-knot Nematode Damage and Increase Yield of Tomato


  • Jose Antonio Lopez-Perez
  • Tatiana Roubtsova
  • Miguel De Cara Garcia
  • Antoon Ploeg


Broccoli (Brassica oleracea), carrot (Daucus carota), marigold (Tagetes patula), nematode-resistant tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), and strawberry (Fragaria ananassa) were grown for three years during the winter in a root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) infested field in Southern California. Each year in the spring, the tops of all crops were shredded and incorporated in the soil. Amendment with poultry litter was included as a sub-treatment. The soil was then covered with clear plastic for six weeks and M. incognita-susceptible tomato was grown during the summer season. Plastic tarping raised the average soil temperature at 13 cm depth by 7°C.The different winter-grown crops or the poultry litter did not affect M. incognita soil population levels. However, root galling on summer tomato was reduced by 36%, and tomato yields increased by 19% after incorporating broccoli compared to the fallow control. This crop also produced the highest amount of biomass of the five winter-grown crops. Over the three-year trial period, poultry litter increased tomato yields, but did not affect root galling caused by M. incognita. We conclude that cultivation followed by soil incorporation of broccoli reduced M. incognita damage to tomato. This effect is possibly due to delaying or preventing a portion of the nematodes to reach the host roots. We also observed that M. incognita populations did not increase under a host crop during the cool season when soil temperatures remained low (< 18°C).