Soybean cyst nematode now confirmed in 54 counties

John Wilson doesn’t mince words when talking about the damage caused by soybean cyst nematode.

“It’s the most devastating pest to soybean growers in Nebraska and the United States,” he says. “Last year, SCN cost Nebraska farmers $30 million in lost yields.” Nationally, growers lost more than $1 billion, says the Extension educator based in Burt County.

These losses can be reduced if farmers are aware SCN is in their fields. But there’s one catch. Farmers can have yield losses of 20% to 30% with no visible symptoms on the plant. So, the best way to determine if SCN is present is to take a soil sample.

To increase statewide testing, the Nebraska Soybean Board has funded a project with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to encourage farmers to sample their fields. The board’s support covers the cost of analyzing soil samples for SCN, normally $20 per sample.

“We just completed the seventh year of this project with some staggering results,” Wilson says.

Since 2005, more than 3,800 samples have been submitted, and SCN has been identified since that year in 27 counties. This doubles the number of counties in which SCN has been confirmed over the previous 19 years. SCN has now been identified in 54 total counties that produce more than 90% of Nebraska’s soybeans.

Confirmation of SCN in a county doesn’t necessarily mean all fields in that county have soils infested with the pest, Wilson says. It may just be a local area or scattered fields. “However, SCN has the potential to move from field to field. Anything that moves soil — such as flooding, wind erosion, wildlife and farm equipment — can move SCN with it.”

Free sample bags are available to producers at their UNL county Extension office.

Source: UNL CropWatch

And the ’Tode award winners are ...

The Oscars or Emmys have nothing over John Wilson. One of the Burt County Extension educator’s specialties is soybean cyst nematode identification and management. He’s back once again with his annual ’Tode Awards, which are given to counties for their work sampling for SCN.

“The early February snowstorm provided the perfect opportunity for the ’Tode Awards Committee to meet, review the nominees, and select this year’s winners,” he says, with tongue planted partially in cheek.

In 2011, 636 samples were submitted and 196, or 30.8%, were positive for SCN. “From these results, our panel of judges has identified the following third annual ’Tode Awards winners:

Most samples submitted. Winner: Buffalo County, 77. Honorable mention: Seward County, 50; Dodge County, 43; and Douglas County, 36.

Most samples positive for SCN. Winner: Dodge County, 31. Honorable mention: Seward County, 28; Buffalo County, 16; and Saunders County, 11.

Most samples positive for SCN (must have submitted at least five samples). Winner: Dodge County, 72%. Honorable mention: Pierce County, 67%; Seward County, 56%; and Douglas County, 54%.

Sample with highest egg count (number of eggs per 100 cubic centimeters of soil). Winner: Cuming County, 46,960. Honorable mention: Pierce County, 31,840; Polk County, 16,280; Butler County, 16,160.

And finally, in the category of counties with first SCN detection, the winners were Hall and Nuckolls counties.

Some might argue that the counties in the last category are losers, not winners, according to Wilson. “However, now farmers in those counties know SCN has been found in local fields, so they can sample for it and start managing it if found in their fields. So they really are winners.”

He adds, “Although it often goes undetected, SCN is here, and it’s reducing the profitability for Nebraska soybean producers.”

To learn more about SCN, or to pick up bags to submit soil samples from your fields, contact your local UNL Extension office. For more information on testing, identification and management of soybean cyst nematode, see NebGuide G1383.


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SCN SPREADING: Soybean cyst nematode has now been identified in 54 Nebraska counties over the past 19 years.

This article published in the April, 2012 edition of NEBRASKA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.