Host Status of Five Weed Species and Their Effects on Pratylenchus zeae Infestation of Maize

  • Elizabeth M. Jordaan
  • D. De Waele


The host suitability of five of the most common weed species occurring in maize (Zea mays L.) fields in South Africa to Pratylenchus zeae was tested. Based on the number of nematodes per root unit, mealie crotalaria (Crotalaria sphaerocarpa) was a good host; goose grass (Eleusine indica), common pigweed ( hybridus), and thorn apple (Datura stramonium) were moderate hosts; and khaki weed (Tagetes minuta) was a poor host. Only the root residues of khaki weed suppressed the P. zeae infestation of subsequently grown maize. When goose grass, khaki weed, and mealie crotalaria were grown in association with maize in soil infested with P. zeae, goose grass and khaki weed severely suppressed maize root development; this resulted in a low number of nematodes per maize root system and a high number of nematodes per maize root unit. Mealie crotalaria did not restrict maize root growth and did not affect nematode densities per maize root system or maize root unit. Special attention should be given to the control of mealie crotalaria, which is a good host for P. zeae, and goose grass, which, in addition to its ability to compete with maize, is also a suitable host for P. zeae. Key words: Amaranthus hybridus, common pigweed, competition, Crotalaria sphaerocarpa, Datura stramonium, Eleusine indica, goose grass, host status, khaki weed; maize, mealie crotalaria, Pratylenchus zeae, root exudate, Tagetes minuta, thorn apple, Zea mays.