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Soybean Cyst Nematode Spreads in 2019

Six Regions Gain SCN; there is Still Time to Test Fields This Year.

Soggy weather in soybean fields in 2019 did not slow the spread of soybean cyst nematode (SCN). 

In fact, floodwaters likely moved SCN to new areas, says Greg Tylka, nematologist at Iowa State University and leader of The SCN Coalition. “That’s one reason we’re recommending soil sampling for SCN during fall fertility testing.”

It’s not just flooding that’s responsible for SCN’s expanding range. Soil moved by wind, birds, and other animals and farm equipment have been spreading SCN in all directions since 1954, when it was first discovered in New Hanover County, North Carolina.

“As of 2019, SCN has been confirmed in every county in Illinois and Iowa, and all but two Indiana counties (Monroe and Brown),” says Tylka, who’s tracked the spread of SCN for almost 20 years. 

About once every three years, Tylka surveys nematologists, plant pathologists, and agronomists from soybean-growing states and Canadian provinces to gather updated information on counties known to be infested with SCN.

Newly infested counties

In 2017, the last time he updated the SCN distribution map, it showed that the No. 1 soybean pathogen had spread to new counties in 17 states: Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Tylka will poll his peers again later this year to update the map in 2020. Until then, here’s a list of the most recent counties and municipalities that have been confirmed as infested with SCN since 2017:

  • Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada
  • Rural municipalities of Emerson-Franklin, Montcalm, Rhineland, and Norfolk Treherne in Manitoba, Canada
  • Gladwin County, Michigan
  • Franklin County, Pennsylvania
  • Sanborn County and Spink County, South Dakota

He cautions that this is an incomplete list: “I don’t want to give the impression that these are all of the new SCN-infested counties. These are just the ones I’m aware of without having done a systematic survey of colleagues yet.”

Test your soils so you know your numbers

“You can’t manage something that you don’t know you have,” Tylka says. “Management starts with sampling. You need to know which fields have it and at what levels. That sets the stage for how you’ll want to approach the battle.

“If you catch numbers when they’re relatively low or moderate, it’s a fairly painless rotation to nonhost crops like corn, oats, wheat, alfalfa, or sunflower. Or as you get into the Southern U.S., cotton and peanuts are nonhosts. 

“Then get to know more about the different types of SCN-resistant soybean varieties that are available, which ones are more effective than others, and how to rotate them properly. We also have a new tool in seed treatments,” Tylka says. “The SCN Coalition recommends actively managing SCN with all four tools.”

A 45-second video of Tylka discussing SCN management is here. For more information about managing SCN in your state or province, visit

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