Beet cyst eelworm
Farmer's Weekly|November 05, 2021
Chemical fumigation of crops destroys beet cyst eelworm, but it also kills beneficial organisms. Farmers would do better to plant a trap crop such as oil radish or mustard to control eelworm, suggests Bill Kerr.
Bill Kerr

Trap crops are used to entice beet cyst eelworms to hatch and enter the plants, where they will be unable to reproduce. This drastically reduces the eelworm population.

There is an obvious disadvantage to planting a trap crop: the farmer loses the opportunity of having a commercial crop growing in its place. But there are also disadvantages to other methods of controlling eelworm; chemical fumigation, for example, kills not only the harmful eelworm, but also the beneficial eelworm, along with many other organisms. And in the absence of their natural enemies, the remaining plant-parasitic eelworms proliferate much faster.

Another disadvantage of the chemical option is the cost of the chemicals. But by planting a cash crop instead of the trap crop, the farmer can earn money and balance out the cost of the chemicals.

It’s easy to see why many farmers are divided on which option to use.

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