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Published August 12, 2013, 09:28 AM

Identify the enemy

Damage from soybean cyst nematode is beginning to show up in area fields — and farmers should pay attention, says Sam Markell, a North Dakota State University Extension Service plant pathologist who is responsible for disease management information on broadleaf crops, including soybeans.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Damage from soybean cyst nematode is beginning to show up in area fields — and farmers should pay attention, says Sam Markell, a North Dakota State University Extension Service plant pathologist who is responsible for disease management information on broadleaf crops, including soybeans.

Though it’s already too late to help soybean fields hurt this growing season, producers need to ascertain the extent of the damage and begin planning how they’ll fight the problem next year, Markell says.

“The biggest thing for this year is awareness,” he says. “Soybean cyst nematode is the thing I worry most about.”

Minnesota is the nation’s third-leading producer of soybeans. North Dakota ranks ninth, with production of the crop spreading north and west into parts of the state where it once wasn’t grown.

Soybean cyst nematode, or SCN, is so new in this part of the country that many area farmers don’t know much about it, Markell says.

SCN first came to the United States in the 1950s and has slowly spread

nationwide, only recently reaching the Upper Midwest. It’s caused by parasitic worms called nematodes that fasten on roots and suck off water and other nutrients.

“They can be pretty devastating,” especially in dry, hot conditions, Markell says. “You can get it enough water, you can’t get enough nutrients.”

The problem is exacerbated because damage isn’t immediately apparent, Markell says.

“You can have a lot of damage on roots. But you won’t see any above-ground symptoms until you get a 15 to 30 percent yield hit,” he says.

There’s nothing farmers can do to battle SCN-infested fields this growing season, Markell says.

“What we’re emphasizing is, find it early and then actively manage it (in future years) through resistance and rotation,” he says.

Using the right seed varieties can build resistance to SCN. Rotating crops on a field from one year to the next also is helpful, he says.

Markell hasn’t received many calls from farmers on SCN yet, but he expects they’ll start in the next few weeks.

“The key is paying attention to the fields. Test the soil. If you find it (SCN) now, you can prepare to deal with it next year,” he says.

Field days address SCN

The North Dakota Soybean Council and NDSU Extension Service are hosting three field days focusing on soybean cyst nematode.

Attendees will see nematicide seed treatments, varieties resistant to soybean cyst and demonstrations of how to sample soil and how to look for SCN in fields.

All three North Dakota field days begin at 9:30 a.m. and are followed by lunch.

Days and locations are:

• Aug. 27 — LaMoure County: one-quarter mile north and one mile west of Verona, next to Pilgrims Rest Cemetery.

• Aug 28 — Richland County: one-half mile east of Highway 127 on County Road 11 east of Fairmont.

• Aug. 29 — Cass County: about halfway between Arthur and Hunter; two miles west of Highway 18 on County Road 26.

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