Soil Census of Kentucky High Tunnels Reveals Statewide Distribution of Two Meloidogyne Species

Victoria Bajek, Misbakhul Munir, Rachel E. Rudolph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


High tunnels are passively heated and cooled structures used for specialty crop production that can increase marketable yields, extend the growing season, and protect crops from harsh weather. Kentucky has more than 1,500 high tunnels, and although there are many benefits, production still has several challenges. High soil temperatures, lack of rotation and sanitation, and intensive and continuous cropping make high tunnels hospitable environments for the root-knot nematode (RKN; Meloidogyne spp.). This plant parasite infects roots, causing chlorosis, wilting, stunting, and yield loss. Determining the presence, population density, and species of RKN is important to inform management strategies. To our knowledge, this is the first research aimed at determining the presence and distribution of RKN across Kentucky. From 2019 to 2022, we sampled the soil in 175 high tunnels in 62 counties. The characteristics of production system, soil type, crop rotation, and high tunnel age were collected to analyze with RKN presence, species, and soil population density. Of the soil samples collected, 45% had no presence of RKN. Among those samples where RKNs were observed, 55% were identified as M. incognita, 39% as M. hapla, and 4% as M. arenaria. RKN presence was dependent on production system and crop rotation, whereas RKN species was dependent on production system and soil type. With over half of the sampled high tunnels infested with RKN, this project justifies further research for management strategies for RKN, especially those that are sustainable species-specific options and appropriate for commercial high tunnels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-515
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Health Progress
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The American Phytopathological Society


  • detection
  • host suitability
  • Meloidogyne
  • resistance
  • soil temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture


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