Sampling for Soybean Cyst Nematode – Fall is the Time!

By: Anne Dorrance, OSU Extension

Harvest is well underway and once the soybeans are off the fields this provides some time to sample soil for the SCN populations.  The SCN Coalition theme for the next few years is What’s your number?  Do you know which fields have SCN and what the current population is sitting at? If its high, then there is a second number – what is the SCN type?  Which addresses the bigger question can it reproduce on the SCN resistance source PI 88788 or Peking.  All of these numbers can impact management of this root pathogen and future losses.

The situation in Ohio:  We know that the state is now “polluted” with SCN, fortunately most of those fields are at very low levels – which is where they should be kept.

From samples received to date of a statewide survey for Ohio of 50 counties as part of the SCN Coalition sampling, here are the numbers from 378 fields.

SCN Population Level Total Fields % Processed
None detected 151 39.9
Trace (40-200) 91 24.0
Low (200-2000) 79 20.9
Moderate (2000-5000) 34 8.9
High (5000+) 24 6.3
Total 378  

Yield losses have been measured as high as 25% with no above ground symptoms in populations of 2,000 and higher.

Summary to date:

  • 60% of the Fields sampled in 2018 and 2019 in Ohio have detectable levels of SCN
  • 15% of these have populations at economically damaging levels – do you know your number?

If your SCN report in the past has come back as:

  1. Not detected: this is not surprising.  Remember that SCN sits in pockets and can we quite variable.  Continue to monitor your fields.
  2. Trace:  May begin to measure some yield loss on susceptible varieties, especially on lighter soils.
  3. Low: Plant SCN resistant varieties or rotate to a non-host crop (corn or wheat).
  4. Moderate:  Rotate to a non-host crop and follow with SCN resistant varieties the following year.  We have planted susceptible varieties in fields with this level of SCN and have recorded 20 to 50% yield loss.
  5. High:  rotate to a non-host crop for two to three years, then sample SCN to determine if populations have declined to a level where soybeans can be planted again.

SCN is picky about what it feeds and reproduces on but it does like a few weed hosts and cover crops as well as soybean.  If you have SCN in your fields , it is important to also control winter annuals such as purple deadnettle, but also avoid cover crops such as several of the clover’s, cowpea and common & hairy vetch.

So it is time to sample!  We recommend sampling in the fall – because in most cases this is what the population will be in the spring.  With the warmer weather this year and hopefully no frozen ground should give ample time to collect and process the samples in plenty of time for spring planting. Processing of samples does cost time and money, so here are a few thoughts on how to sample or how to target your sampling to get the best information for your money.

For several counties there is still free sampling available please contact your county educator to target some of those problem (low yielding) fields.

Updated information on where to send the samples for processing for a fee:

OSU C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic
8995 E. Main St. Bldg 23
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068
Phone: 614-292-5006  – follow this link to download forms to go along with the samples

Brookside Laboratory Inc.
200 White Mountain Dr.
New Bremen, OH 45869

Spectrum Analytic Inc.
1087 Jamison Rd. NW
Washington Court House, OH  43160

For some additional information on Management of SCN – always check Ohio’s SCN fact sheet and several other resources as well:– link to the 5th edition of the SCN guide developed through the North Central Soybean Research Program.

Link to recent findings and sampling protocol for SCN:


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