Paul Gans - Plant Health Management

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Solanum sisymbriifolium  - a trap crop for PCN (16 July 2007)

sisymbriifolium (38K)

At the West Midlands potato demonstration in June Greenvale AP were keen to demonstrate the potential for using Solanum sisymbriifolium as a trap crop for potato cyst nematodes. The similarity of the flowers betrays its relationship with potatoes and it is sometimes called sticky nightshade to distinguish it from, for example, black nightshade and bitter sweet nightshade. Like potato, its roots send out chemical signals telling the PCN eggs to hatch, but unlike with potato, the emerging nematodes are unable to invade the roots and turn into another generations of cysts. Dutch researchers found that a crop of Solanum sisymbriifolium can cause 77% of a 2 year old PCN infestation to hatch compared with 87% for a crop of potatoes.

Such impacts on PCN infestations have previously only been achieved with Telone II (1,3-dichloropropene 94%w/w. Dow Agrosciences). However while the trap crop is grown, the land is unavailable for other crops. Because this species likes a warm climate the window for growing this crop is relatively short at our latitudes. Researchers at Wageningen, the Netherlands, have tried to find out what room for manoeuvre there is for fitting this crop in along with another in the same season. There is little benefit from sowing prior to the first week of May. Plots sown in the first week of August failed to develop a full canopy because of declining temperatures and radiation. The most interesting plots were those sown in the first and the third week of July. The performance of these was variable, with good results in 2 out of 3 years. The reasons are not clear but it may simply be to do with the weather patterns in different years. This may be critical for fitting in a crop after an early combinable crop. The response may also vary according the local climates, and one might wish to explore the potential for this in Southern England or in France. Another aspect the Dutch researchers looked at is, how long the crop needs to grow, for it to send out the necessary signals. This work is not complete, but very useful data have been collected which will make it possible to estimate the potential hatching efficacy from measurements taken from the crop as it grows. For the moment the use in the UK is advised for set-aside but set-aside may be scrapped soon as a result of tight cereal supplies. In the Netherlands planting short season vegetables after the trap crop has been suggested, but this would depend on being sure that the trap crop had done its work when it is removed.

As with all attempts to manage PCN it is necessary to think long term and the way in which this measure, along with rotations, variety resistance, nematicides and other factors affect infestation levels over a prolonged period of time. Keywords/Tags: Potato Cyst Nematode, PCN, Solanum sisymbriifolium, trap crops.


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