When it comes to soybean cyst nematode (SCN), knowledge is power. Iowa State University Plant Pathologist Greg Tylka says it’s not too late to test and manage soils before planting.

“These nematodes are microscopic worms that live in the soil,” Tylka says. “They do move, but can’t move more than an inch under their own power. You can’t go by what you’re hearing your neighbors say what’s happening in their field to decide what’s happening in your field. The only way to manage SCN is to know what’s going on. Two fields in the same farm could be completely different.”

However, it is still possible to manage the pest if present in fields.

“Depending on what seed [farmers] have lined up and what companies they work with, it still might not be too late to switch to resistant soybean varieties,” Tylka says. “That single decision could pay dividends to the tune of 10, 15, 20+ bu./acre in yield by knowing if you have SCN and managing it properly with resistant soybean varieties.”
Tylka says there have been reports of SCN populations adapting to the most common source of resistance, and sampling the soil is a way to test how resistant varieties are working.

“By taking soil samples now in the spring or even in the fall from fields where you’ve grown resistant varieties, it’s a reality check on what the numbers are in that field. We used to only talk about soil sampling to detect SCN, but now we’re also talking to growers about sampling fields they’ve been managing with resistant varieties to see what their numbers are doing.”

Tylka says management does take effort, but it is well worth it.

To hear Tylka discuss SCN in more detail, visit ISA’s Production Research Web site to listen to this podcast and others.