Annual crop loss due to nematode damage is estimated at $9 billion in the United States. The largest percentage of that loss occurs in the South and Southeast.

Telone II is a preplant soil fumigant for control of all major species of nematodes and is widely used in the vegetable, tobacco and peanut industries. By now, most growers are aware of the Telone II shortage and are searching for alternative control methods for nematodes.

According to Dow AgroSciences, the makers of Telone, this product is formulated by using by-products created from their automobile plastic division. With the economy putting a crunch on recent car sales and manufacturing, it looks like farmers will suffer from this “economic trickle down” effect.

University Extension personnel recommend growers use the available Telone supply in field locations that have a history of high nematode pressure. Products like methyl bromide and Midas (methyl iodide) would be costly replacements for Telone.

So, where does this leave us in the battle against nematodes? Fortunately there are some answers. Chloropicrin and Vapam are good fumigant products, but again, cost and availability are the factors to consider. Temik, a soil applied insecticide can only be used in a limited area of crop production, but definitely not in most of the vegetable industry.

Plant Health Care, Inc, a Pittsburg based company, offers Employ and ProAct as nematode control options. Both are foliar applied products that provide a yield increase as well as nematode control.

The products are based on the Harpin technology. Harpin Proteins activate a plant's intrinsic ability to protect itself through growth and stress-defense responses. Employ and ProAct turn on a plant's internal defense mechanism to achieve greater plant health and the highest yield potentials. In this process, nematode populations are lessened by 50 percent in most crops.

Harpin products in combination with Vydate, a DuPont insecticide product, have shown even higher nematode control levels.

Employ is labeled for use in a wide range of key crops such as tomatoes, peppers, melons, cucurbits, peaches, blueberries, tobacco and turf, just to name a few.

ProAct is labeled for row crops like cotton, corn and soybeans.

These products can be tank-mixed with a variety of other products like herbicides (glyphosate), fungicides (chlorothalonil), and insecticides. See the label for complete details and mixing compatibility.

The use recommendation for Employ is two ounces applied 2-3 times in a growing season. For the best performance, Plant Health Care recommends treating transplants in the greenhouse prior to going to the field. The greenhouse treatment turns on the nematode defense and helps plants get past “Transplant Shock”.

ProAct use rates vary with crops. A one ounce application is recommended for cotton and soybeans any time prior to bloom. Corn is a half ounce rate applied any time prior to tasseling. Traditionally, these applications are made with the first glyphosate applications for ease and convenience.

Plant Health Care also offers a line of Harpin enhanced foliar feed fertilizer. The Harp-N-Tek line of fertilizer offers nematode protection and yield increase with a fertilizer application. Harp-N-Tek fertilizers are available in formulas like 18-18-18, 15-0-40 and 11-41-08.

These products are extremely affordable and once again Plant Health Care is offering a “Grower Satisfaction Guarantee” in 2009 for Employ and ProAct. This means farmers can try these products virtually “risk free”. Contact your nearest chemical supplier for pricing and guarantee details or you can visit the Web site at http://www.planthealthcare.com/AgEmploy/2009Guarantee for complete details.