Soybean Cyst Nematode – North America’s #1 Yield Robber in Soybeans

by Austin Wippel, Sustainable Plant Systems major

Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) was first confirmed in Ohio in 1987. This parasitic nematode can now be found in 68 counties in Ohio.

Annual losses from SCN exceed 1 billion annually in the U.S.  Susceptible varieties can have a yield loss of 40 bushels per acre when compared to a tolerant variety.

SCN’s Impact
SCN damages plants by feeding directly on the roots of the soybean plant. This reduces the plants ability to take in nutrients and provides sites of entry for root rotting fungi.

There are many factors that will affect how susceptible a soybean crop is to infection by SCN. These factors include existing SCN populations, tillage practices, soil fertility, and environmental conditions.

The most common symptoms to soybeans in fields with high populations of SCN include stunted plants and chlorosis on the leaves. With  lower populations of SCN, the only real symptom will be a yield reduction. Other symptoms mirror signs of nutrient deficiencies, compaction, and injury from herbicides.

SCN populations are rarely eradicated from a field once they have been introduced. SCN populations grow rapidly if soybeans are grown for consecutive years in the same field. However, they also reduced drastically when a field is rotated to a non-host crop. Crop rotation is the best strategy towards combating this problem.

In review, SCN has taken root in the soils of North America. We need to collectively implement good crop rotation and the use of tolerant varieties on our farms to get this problem under control.

For more information, visit Spectrum Analytic

About the Author
I am a junior at The Ohio State University majoring in Agronomy. I live and work on a family farm located in south central Ohio.

This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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