As preparation for the 2016 planting season begins, Syngenta encourages growers to develop a proactive plan to protect their yields from soybean cyst nematode (SCN). SCN is a microscopic parasite that causes unseen damage and steals yield potential. As the most detrimental pest to soybeans in the U.S., SCN often destroys 30 percent of yields with no obvious aboveground symptoms, according to University of Illinois Extension.

SCN infects soybean at the roots. Juvenile nematodes penetrate into the tissue and leave behind unprotected wounds, which lead to dwarfed or stunted plants with weak roots. These compromised root systems reduce the plant’s ability to take up moisture and nutrients and cause potential yield loss. Weaker plants with wounds are also more susceptible to infection by soilborne pathogens, leading to increased damage from diseases like sudden death syndrome (SDS) and brown stem rot.

“Because SCN is hidden under the soil, growers don’t realize the extent of their problem until they soil sample and/or begin to notice lower yields,” said Dale Ireland, Ph.D., Seedcare technical product lead at Syngenta. “Direct feeding, infection and stress caused by SCN allow additional diseases and yield losses to occur.”

To manage SCN, Ireland recommends rotating crops, planting SCN-resistant varieties, using a seed-applied nematicide and soil sampling after every second soybean crop. He also stresses the importance of keeping fields clean from alternative SCN-host winter weeds, such as henbit and purple deadnettle, to maintain protection offered by genetic SCN-resistance sources.

He also recommends treating seed with Clariva Complete Beans seed treatment, a combination of separately registered products. Because it contains a nematicide, an insecticide and three fungicides, it provides crops with triple pest protection during the critical early-growth stage.

“There are several options in the tool box to manage SCN,” Ireland said. “You need to utilize all the tools available. A proactive SCN management program is required to protect your soybeans from increased losses and improve your return on investment.”

To learn more about protecting yields from SCN and related diseases like SDS, visit the Tools to Grow More Soybeans resource page.