Scientists at the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) have discovered that a plant parasite is causing poor growth rates in cereal and grass crops in several parts of NI.

The root knot nematode is the related to the potato pest commonly known as potato root eelworm. It hatches from eggs in early spring and enters roots causing stunted growth and yellowing plants.

AFBI scientists note that larger areas within fields of cereals have been affected this year and suspect that the hot weather during 2018 caused high populations of root knot nematode to develop.

Growers of cereals and ryegrass are being advised to check crops for unexplained stunted growth and poor response to nutrient application. If nematodes are suspected, contact AFBI crop pathologist Dr Thomas Fleming on 028 9025 5240 or for testing and management advice.

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