Once SCN is established in a field, it’s impossible to eradicate. So the first step is trying to prevent the spread of SCN into clean fields by avoiding the movement of soil from infested fields to uninfested ones. The most obvious approach is to work uninfested fields before moving equipment into infested ones.

If you suspect you have SCN, begin looking for it and managing it promptly.

“It is much easier to keep low numbers low than to bring high numbers down,” says Tylka.

A pest as tough as SCN requires an integrated strategy for management. Here are key steps to keeping SCN in check:

  • Rotate crops. SCN cannot reproduce in non-host crops like corn, sorghum, sunflower, alfalfa, rye or wheat, and population densities decline every season the nematodes are denied a host.
  • Control weeds. Weeds, including many legumes as well as clover, vetch and winged pigweed, are SCN hosts.
  • Keep crops healthy. Plant stress from drought, nutrient deficiencies, insect damage, weed competition and other plant diseases is exacerbated by SCN. Protect crops from other threats to minimize SCN damage.
  • Plant resistant varieties. Some resistant varieties can be effective on some populations of SCN, though the vast genetic diversity of the pest has overcome the most popular resistant genetics in many areas. It is important to rotate resistant genetics to keep them viable in the long run. Alternatives are scarce, but they’re worth seeking out.
  • Protect roots. New nematicides — including a biological seed treatment — are on the market or on the way. Though they’re expensive tools, they can complement other management practices.

“An SCN infestation is not a death sentence,” Tylka says. “Finding it doesn’t mean you have to stop growing soybeans. You just have to manage it.”