Aventis CropScience has announced its continued support of the National Cotton Council's effort to gather and disseminate information about nematodes and seedling disease and how these problems impact growers across the Cotton Belt.

Since 1952, the National Cotton Council has been tracking losses from nematodes and seedling disease. Beltwide nematode losses for 2000 were estimated at 4.3 percent or $307.7 million dollars. This includes $157.8 million for rootknot nematode, $129.1 million for reniform nematode, and 20.8 million for all other species.

In a 49-year period from 1952 until 2000, growers lost an average 2.84 percent of their crop annually to seedling diseases. In 1999, the value of bales lost totaled more than $2 million across the Cotton Belt.

Nematologists and plant pathologists representing all areas of the Cotton Belt meet annually to discuss their research and report on sampling efforts. That information is then compiled and made available through printed materials and online at http://www.cotton.org/cf/nematodes/index.cfm and http://www.cotton.org/cf/seedlings/index.cfm.

Aventis CropScience helps fund this effort through an annual grant to the National Cotton Council.

Don Blasingame, project leader for the Nematode and Seedling Disease Committee, says nematodes continue to be one of the most significant challenges facing cotton growers.

“Quite often it's simply a lack of awareness that the problem exists,” he says. “Visually, it's not always apparent.

“A decline in productivity is often mistaken for other factors such as less-than-ideal weather, insects or other problems. The only way to determine whether or not nematodes are present is to sample for them.”

When nematodes are coupled with seedling disease, the potential yield loss is magnified. “All growers need to be aware of the potential yield loss that can occur if nematode infestations exist,” Blasingame says.

“It's also important to realize how devastating seedling disease can be. It may not occur for several years, but when it does show up, it can be very expensive in terms of yield loss. Recognizing when and how to treat these problems is critical to avoid unnecessary yield losses.”

The Nematode and Seedling Disease Committee has been instrumental in gathering information and providing the latest research to growers. Through the committee's on-going efforts, growers can access a wealth of information to help them manage nematodes and seedling diseases as efficiently and economically as possible.