If you haven't tested for soybean cyst nematodes (SCN) and still think you don't have them, you are probably dead wrong. And you're probably poorer for it.

In fact, you may as well flush a small stack of $100 bills down the toilet, or burn them. If you have not tested for SCN, and yields have been skimpier than you think they should be, you're doing the equivalent of just that to yourself.

Silly as that may sound, according to a 1997 survey, only one out of three soybean growers has tested for SCN - and taken corrective action if he found the problem.

Scientists have found SCN in every state where soybeans are grown. They've also confirmed them in most counties in those states.

So, before you pull that corn planter out of the shed, take just a few hours - a short day at most - to take soil samples and have them analyzed for SCN. The cost in time and money: about 30 minutes per field and roughly $15 a field to get the samples tested.

If you find you have SCN, the corrective action is to rotate out of soybeans to a non-host crop like corn for more than one year and switch to SCN-resistant varieties.

Those could be the most profitable moves you make in 1998.

"One of the best things growers could do this entire season to ensure a healthy, profitable soybean crop is to get out there before they plant the crop and check for cyst nematodes," declares Iowa State University nematologist Greg Tylka. "Discovering the problem and then taking the corrective action could easily make a 10-bu and even up to a 20-bu/acre difference in their yield."

Tylka, a veteran cyst nematode fighter, is only one voice in a big flock of concerned people worrying about this critically serious problem.

Scientists, industry representatives, United Soybean Board and American Soybean Association farmer-leaders - and yes, farm media representatives - have all joined in The SCN Coalition to beat this expensive pest.

The coalition's slogan: "Take the test. Beat the pest."

"Producers are losing enormous amounts of yield and profit potential to SCN, and many don't even know it," challenges Paulette Pierson, the coalition's regional SCN education coordinator.

The coalition is a unique and ground-breaking partnership of state soybean checkoff boards and land grant universities from 10 North Central states, plus a handful of seed company and grower cooperative representatives.

Participating states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Individual research and extension personnel from Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky and Ontario also have been involved in the project.

Industry partners, other than ASA and USB, include: Cargill Hybrid Seeds, Asgrow Seed Company, Cenex/Land O'Lakes, Dekalb Genetics, Growmark/Countrymark, Mycogen Seeds, Novartis Seeds and Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

Remember, challenge these nematode fighters: Growers can't control crop prices, especially in a global market. But they can help their yields by making sure soybean cyst nematodes aren't sucking away a shameful percentage of their profit.