Musing over his crop plans in January, a soybean grower said, "I'm planting all or nearly all soybean cyst nematode-resistant varieties. We haven't been able to break the cyst cycle with rotation, and we're getting yield response from cyst varieties."
A few years ago no farmer in his right mind would have considered planting his entire acreage to SCN-resistant varieties because of the 10-15% yield drag that was common.
That's not the case now, emphasize extension and seed company agronomists. Breeders have customized top-yielding varieties, adding SCN resistance without hurting performance.
That means if you've used lab analysis to confirm SCN in your fields, you have good options to keep the beast at bay. Yield drag with SCN-resistant varieties doesn't happen anymore, says Lance Murrell, agronomist at Erny's Fertilizer in Walton, IN.
"SCN varieties are outyielding susceptible varieties in non-cyst fields," he says.
Yields of resistant varieties are very competitive with those of susceptible varieties, agrees Jamal Faghihi, research nematologist at Purdue University.
"Most of the time, they're better," he says.
Asgrow agronomist Greg Watters adds, "Yield drag is the farthest thing from anyone's mind anymore."
As proof of the yield strides made by resistant varieties, Watters explains that about 80-90% of the beans his company sells in 30 southwestern Illinois counties have SCN resistance.
"The highest-yielding beans we have right now are cyst-resistant," he notes.
"Public and private breeders have done a phenomenal job with SCN varieties," says Gary Pepper, University of Illinois extension agronomist.
As an example, he cites the public SCN-resistant variety Jack, which he says is "a little weak-stemmed" but still yields 60-70 bu/acre.
Not every resistant variety will be a hot yielder, Pepper warns. You still need to review yield-plot reports from universities and seed companies to pick varieties best-suited to your field conditions. And agronomists emphasize the need for consistent performance of both SCN resistance and yield over time and several locations.