In this article we explain the management strategies to help manage a nematode pest in your turf.

February 16, 2022

There are many types of nematode (round worm) living naturally in our soils. They can be free living or parasitic. The plant parasitic nematode (PPN) can occasionally cause severe problems for amenity turf. There are a large number of PPNs all with different modes of life cycle and attack. PPNs can be ectoparasitic: they live in the plant and feed internally, or endoparasitic: they live in the rootzone and feed on the root externally.


Root nodules invaded by nematodes.


ProblemPlant parasitic nematode types
Host grass typesAll turf types
SymptomsVisual signs of a nematode infestation will vary. Generally a patchy yellow discoloration to the turf is seen with a weakening and thinning of the sward. Damage to the plant root system will affect nutrient uptake. Wear tolerance and disease resistance decline.


Ectoparasitic, for example:

  1. Stubby root nematode Paratrichodorus spp.
  2. Stunt nematode Tylenchorhynchus spp.
  3. Sheath nematode Hemicycliophora spp.


Endoparasitic, for example:

  1. Root knot nematode Meloidogyne spp.
  2. Cyst nematode Heterodera spp.
  3. Lesion nematode Pratylenchus spp.


Management strategies to help manage nematode attack

  1. Understand what is present and in what numbers: send soil samples to an established laboratory for a nematode count.
  2. Apply a foliar feed where you suspect rooting is compromised.
  3. Use WSF SMX within your annual nutrition program. SMX has been independently shown to maintain plant health while suffering from high nematode pressure.
  4. Nematode symptoms often appear when turf is under stress; act preventively and work at increasing your turf rootmass and reducing overall plant stress by using an iTurf approach.
  5. Reduce turf stress where possible: raise height of cut, maintain good, but not excessive rootzone moisture, use balanced nutrition as part of a programmed approach, reduce intensity of maintenance (grooming, verticutting), monitor rootzone pH, and adjust management where necessary to keep within optimum range.