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Are Wheat Cover Crops a Bridge for Root Lesion Nematodes?

Volume 5 Issue 10

Inga Zasada, USDA-ARS Plant Pathologist


A common practice in the raspberry production system in northern WA is to plant a wheat cover crop prior to or after fumigating soil in the fall. There are many advantages to utilizing a winter cover crop including increased water infiltration and erosion control. However, wheat is a host for the root lesion nematode ( P. penetrans) (Fig. 1). The objectives of an ongoing research endeavor in raspberry are: 1) to determine the role that a wheat cover crop plays in supporting P. penetrans populations during the raspberry renovation process, and 2) how to manage a winter wheat cover crop prior to re-establishing raspberry.

Winter Wheat Is an Excellent Host for Pratylenchus Penetrans

Figure 1. P. penetrans, or Root lesion nematodes (RLN). Source:

But Are There Other Options?

From: Forge et al. (2000); Belair et al. (2002), Jagdale et al. (2000), and Thies et al. (1995).

Questions Remaining

  • Are there other winter cover crops that can be used during raspberry field renovation that are not hosts or are poor hosts for P. penetrans?
  • Can P. penetrans be managed in a wheat cover crop? Factors being considered:
  • Time of cover crop kill
  • Use of Lannate (methomyl)

Acknowledgements.  This work is a collaboration among Tom Walters and Lisa DeVetter. Thank you to cooperating raspberry growers and the Washington Red Raspberry Commission for their continued support of this research.