In Africa, Kenya is an important producer of pineapples, being one of the main contributors to the 19.8% pineapple global production that Africa exports.
The pineapple plant, however, attracts a wide variety of pests and diseases. One of the biggest challenges for producers worldwide is plant-parasitic nematodes. Each year, these small roundworms cause significant reductions in yields in commercial production around the world. In Kenya, a study was conducted to determine and compare the population densities and diversity of nematodes in two commercial plantations with two contrasting management practices in Kenya. In addition, the influence of plant age was assessed and compared with nearby smallholder pineapple production systems.
Solveig Haukeland, researcher at NIBIO, said: "Nematode infection of pineapple roots results in reduced root function, which means the plant will deteriorate and eventually die, reducing yield and fruit quality. Interactions between plant parasitic nematodes and other pathogens, or between nematode species in a mixed community, are common and can result in extensive damage or disease complexes.”
Yield reductions of pineapple production were associated with plant parasitic nematodes in several countries, including Hawaii, Australia, South-Africa and Brazil. "In Brazil, some reports have demonstrated that the reniform nematode can reduce yield by 60% in the plant crop and around 40% in the second harvest," Haukeland added.
"In Kenya, few nematode studies have been conducted, although the main commercial pineapple producer has sole dispensation to use Telone II, a fumigant used as part of a nematode management, indicating the magnitude of the nematode problem," says Haukeland.
This led to the study which represents the first known documentation of the diversity and population densities of nematodes on pineapple in Kenya.