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Beat SCN: Test for pest in soil nowBeat SCN: Test for pest in soil now

October is SCN Action Month; test soil for soybean cyst nematode this fall.

Sarah McNaughton

October 27, 2023

2 Min Read
hands holding soil
BEAT THE PEST: eradication of Soybean Cyst Nematode is impossible, the best approach to save soybean yields is with a multi-faceted approach including planting resistant varieties, seed treatments, and crop rotation.tchara/Getty Images

The SCN Coalition, along with corporate partner BASF, says October is the best time to conduct soil tests to beat out soybean cyst nematode before spring. Jeremiah Mullock, U.S. product manager for BASF, says it takes an all-hands-on-deck approach to manage SCN.

“It’s best to deploy all the tools in the toolbox. There’s no eradication for this pest,” Mullock says. “We’ve found the pest in over 75% of soil samples, so the pest is there. It’s widespread and causing more and more yield loss that we likely don’t see above the ground.”

Each year, SCN causes more than $1 billion in production losses. The SCN Coalition with its industry partners works to bring awareness and management to save crops.

“Growers need to develop an active management plan,” Mullock says. “Our intent with SCN Action Month is to get growers thinking about the testing, to be proactive and build your plan for the 2024 crop.”

Take test, beat pest

Often called the “invisible pest,” SCN is the single-most damaging pest affecting soybeans across the nation. SCN Action Month serves as the reminder to start working on a treatment plan now.

“Fall is the ideal time to go out and collect those soil samples without a crop growing, and you can plan ahead of planting whether that be with resistant varieties or using a seed treatment,” Mullock explains.

A soil test is the most reliable way to determine if SCN exists in fields. The test will reveal an estimated SCN population density, and let growers know if numbers are decreasing with proper management. “Collecting 15 or 20 cores and sending them off to your nematode testing lab will share numbers,” he states. “From there, you can contact your BASF rep and have a conversation about management.”

Planting resistant soybean varieties, utilizing crop rotation and using a seed treatment such as Ilevo protects soybean crops from yield loss. “Those SCN eggs can remain dormant in the soil for a decade or longer, so it’s really about knocking down the population,” Mullock says. “Ilevo is our offer as a seed treatment that delivers 2- to 4-bushel yield increases under nematode pressures.”

The Dakotas face rapidly expanding SCN numbers, making for unique challenges for growers. “Definitely in the Dakotas, we’ve seen SCN expand quickly over the last decade,” he says. “They face different challenges than those in the ‘I’ states do. You might not always have a resistant soybean variety available, and depending on crop rotation, other legume crops could be a host as well.”

Testing facilities are available to Dakota growers, including:

  • South Dakota State University Plant Diagnostic Clinic

  • North Dakota State University Plant Diagnostic Lab

  • AgVise Laboratories

  • Midwest Laboratories

  • MVTL Laboratories

  • Waypoint Analytical Iowa Inc.

Find your closest lab for SCN testing and more about SCN management at thescncoalition.com or from your local BASF representative.

Read more about:

Crop DiseaseSCN

About the Author(s)

Sarah McNaughton

Editor, Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress

Sarah McNaughton of Bismarck, N.D., has been editor of Dakota Farmer since 2021. Before working at Farm Progress, she was an NDSU 4-H Extension agent in Cass County, N.D. Prior to that, she was a farm and ranch reporter at KFGO Radio in Fargo.

McNaughton is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a bachelor’s degree in ag communications and a master’s in Extension education and youth development.

She is involved in agriculture in both her professional and personal life, as a member of North Dakota Agri-Women, Agriculture Communicators Network Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority Alumni and Professional Women in Agri-business. As a life-long 4-H’er, she is a regular volunteer for North Dakota 4-H programs and events.

In her free time, she is an avid backpacker and hiker, and can be found most summer weekends at rodeos around the Midwest.

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