Potato cyst nematodes (PCN) are the most economically important nematode pests of potato. Early harvesting is part of a preventive management approach for very early potato varieties. In Belgium, tubers are harvested before 20 June because it is assumed that no cyst formation occurs by that date. However, this assumption might not be valid any more because of climate change, the availability of new cultivars (with new traits), and the increasing prevalence of Globodera pallida. Therefore, pot, microplot and field trials were conducted to study the life cycle of PCN in early potato-growing conditions. The development of populations of G. pallida on three potato cultivars, Eersteling (susceptible to PCN), Première (resistant to G. rostochiensis) and Ambassador (partially resistant to G. pallida) and that of G. rostochiensis on cv. Eersteling was monitored in the growth chamber with simulation of field temperatures of the season. On cvs Eersteling and Première, second-stage juveniles (J2), males, females and cysts of G. pallida populations were found 28, 56, 63 and 77 days after infestation with cysts (DAI), respectively. The number of degree days (DD) for G. pallida to complete its life cycle using a base temperature of 4°C was calculated 450 DD4. On cv. Ambassador, females of G. pallida were never observed. J2, males, females and cysts of G. rostochiensis were detected 42, 70, 70 and 84 DAI, respectively. This species needed 398 DD6 at a base temperature of 6°C to complete its life cycle. Observations in two fields and in microplots under prevailing weather conditions in 2013 revealed that cysts of G. pallida and G. rostochiensis were formed on June 12, when the accumulated degree days were 463 DD4 and 401 DD6, respectively. Our observations show that both species of Globodera develop earlier than was assumed based on previous data. Therefore, harvesting based on the accumulated heat above the basal development temperature required by PCN species can replace the set harvest date.
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