Root-knot nematodes destroy Millennium stadium

Root-knot nematodes have destroyed the surface of one of Britain's most prestigious and newest sports pitches.

Millennium Stadium in Cardiff needs a returfing worth over £100,000 following the rampage that left grass yellowing and shearing off in clumps.

Problems surfaced when Wales’ football international Craig Bellamy criticised the state of the pitch during the World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein.

Grounds staff called in scientists from Sports Turf Research Institute. Humidity and climatic conditions may have triggered an aggressive pest attack.

"We could treat or replace the turf", said stadium manager Gerald Toms. "It’s a busy football and rugby fixture list and we could not establish if it would recover in time.

"So we decided to replace the turf. It’s a temporary surface that we change twice a year so it does not have a deep root system unlike permanent surfaces."

Dutch supplier Hendrix, which tackled pitches for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, will resurface the Cardiff ground with 15m-long, 2.4m-wide rolls. It will take 12 hours.

"We’ve never had a problem with their products in the past: the company is superb and has tremendous reputation. But certain climate conditions can cause problems."

Plant breeders at the Institute of Grassland & Environmental Research said the nematode, of the genus Meloidogyne naasi, was present in all sports pitches.

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