By Horacio Lopez-Nicora, Assistant Professor in Plant Pathology at The Ohio State University

Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is a major soybean pathogen that continues to spread throughout Ohio. Commonly, yield reduction will take place with no visible symptoms. To know if the nematode is present in a field, soil sample for SCN testing must be properly collected. The presence of SCN in a field, but most importantly, the SCN numbers will determine the best management strategy. It is important, therefore, to Test your Fields to Know your SCN Numbers

Soybean cyst nematode eggs (note SCN juvenile inside eggs). Photo Credit, The Ohio State University

When should you sample for SCN? Spring before planting is a good time to sample for SCN. A soil test in spring will reveal if SCN is present and at what levels. Knowing your SCN numbers in spring will tell you what to expect for the season, identify the best management practices, and plan for next year. Furthermore, if you are planning to collect sample for soil fertility, a subsample can be used for SCN testing!   

How should you collect soil sample for SCN? Different sampling strategies can be used to collect soil sample for SCN testing, including those used for soil fertility sampling. We strongly recommend using a 1-inch-diameter cylindrical probe to collect between 15 to 20 (more is better!) soil cores, 8 inches deep, for every 20 acres. Collect these soil cores in a zig-zag pattern across an area similar in soil texture and cropping history. Thoroughly mix the composite sample by gently breaking the soil cores. At this point we advise splitting the composite sample in two: one for soil fertility and one for SCN testing. Place 1 pint (approx. 2 cups) of soil in a labeled plastic bag and ship it to the lab as soon as possible. For more information on how to collect soil sample for SCN testing visit here.

How should you handle your SCN soil sample? Soil sample collected for SCN testing is alive! We must handle it carefully. To keep the nematodes alive, store sample in a cool, dark place out of direct exposure to sunlight and ship SCN samples to the lab as quickly as possible.

Soybean cyst nematode, infective second stage juvenile (J2). (Photo Credit The Ohio State University)

Where should you send your soil sample for analysis? There are several SCN testing labs in the North Central Region, however, with funding from the Ohio Soybean Council and The SCN Coalition we will process up to TWO soil samples, per grower, to be tested for SCN, free of charge. Growers will decide how they want to collect these samples, but we suggest collecting one sample from a low and one from a high yielding area. Download and complete this Soil Sample Submission Form and mail your samples to:

OSU Soybean Pathology and Nematology Lab

Attn: Horacio Lopez-Nicora, Ph.D.

110 Kottman Hall

2021 Coffey Rd.

Columbus, Ohio 43210

For more information on SCN sampling and management visit our factsheet here.

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