Cover crops and soybean cyst nematode

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Soybean cyst nematode continues to expand in Ohio, robbing yields from more fields and larger areas within fields. Where it does occur, SCN has been managed with rotation, rotating non-hosts (corn and wheat) and rotating varieties with SCN resistance. There is one factor that can contribute to this management approach not working and that is the planting or failure to control other hosts of soybean cyst nematode. Soybean cyst nematode has a broader appetite than just soybean. There are also regional differences in the host range of some of these populations. In other words, the SCN in one state might be able to reproduce on one host and not the same in another. In addition to the weed plants, the following crop plants have been tested with Ohio populations and found to make good hosts:

  • Alsike clover
  • Bird’s-foot trefoil
  • Green beans, dry beans
  • Common and hairy vetch
  • Cowpea
  • Crimson clover
  • Lespedezas
  • Pea
  • White & Yellow Lupine
  • Sweetclovers   

More importantly, almost all legumes have been shown to be a host of some population within the U.S., even those that are reported to be non-hosts to some populations. Care should be taken in planting cover crops, these hosts should be rotated as well to avoid the adaptation of SCN populations. The best tool to know and track your populations is to monitor their abundance in the soil – with the soil test. If they keep increasing even with the planting of non-hosts – they will have adapted. When you plant soybeans, the performance is not what it should be – check for SCN with a soil test.

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