A new web-based learning module addressing cotton nematode awareness, identification of key species, proper soil sampling techniques and nematode management strategies is now available. It was developed by Syngenta Crop Protection and the American Society of Agronomy's Certified Crop Advisor program, and is available at www.AVICTACompletePak.com.

Nematodes cause significant yield losses in most cotton-growing areas in the United States. Yet for decades, a lack of awareness and information about these cotton parasites has enabled them to intensify and spread, often undetected. The cotton nematode module is designed to provide in-depth knowledge of the cotton nematode problem, and to help growers identify key nematode species and begin planning a nematode management strategy.

“Unlike insects or weeds that you can see, nematodes are microscopic,” said David Long, technical crop manager, Syngenta Seed Treatment. “Identifying nematodes in a field requires accurate soil sampling, which many growers don't invest in because it's difficult to recognize specific symptoms of crop damage. The best way to understand the symptoms and damage of nematode infestations is through education.”

Nematodes cause visible damage only on cotton roots — where they attack. They don't cause specific above-ground symptoms on cotton, making their damage easy to confuse with drought, nutrition deficiency or disease.

“The result is that many growers have a major yield-loss problem and they don't realize it. And it gets worse the longer nematodes remain undetected,” Long said.

In 2004 nematodes caused the loss of an estimated $402 million — more than 1 million bales of U.S. cotton. “Some of that yield loss can be prevented by improving grower knowledge and understanding of nematodes and by teaching appropriate management tactics, which are two goals of the cotton nematode online module,” Long said.

This web-based module will offer CCAs one Continuing Education Unit toward maintaining their CCA status with the American Society of Agronomy. The convenient, easy-access module is available to CCAs and anyone else interested in these topics.