By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and Soybean Check-off
With the increased price of soybean seed in recent years, the discussion about planting “naked seed” or cutting back some component of the seed treatment to lower the cost has become more common among soybean growers. The risk of this decision is if the wrong treatment is removed, the plant is at greater risk depending on the environment. “One area of my research is evaluating soybean seed treatments and evaluating different environments with a combination of different pathogens,” said Lopez-Nicora. “We have a complex of pathogens that can interact synergistically and cause more damage to the plant. Researching SCN is an objective of my program, but also other organisms that are threatening our soybeans and how they interact with these different pathogens.”
“We know that soybean cyst nematode management is not just the use of one tool, but the integration of multiple management tools,” said Horacio Lopez-Nicora, OSU Extension Soybean Pathologist and Nematologist. “Resistance remains the best way to manage SCN if we cannot rotate to a non-host crop, but also adding a seed protectant will enhance the soybean health during the season and reduce the damage due to the nematode.”
Jeremiah Mullock, BASF Product Manager, Seed Treatment for BASF, offers his insight on how growers can overcome these lurking pests through education and by testing their fields each fall. “If growers followed the adage seeing is believing, they’d have thrown in the farming towel years ago. There are simply too many diseases and pests lurking beneath the soil for growers to have a wait-and-see attitude. The soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is the most destructive pest soybean growers face today, and once growers recognize the obvious SCN symptoms, it’s too late,” said Mullock.
This issue is what led to a second-annual SCN Action Month, an awareness campaign from BASF and The SCN Coalition. The month was dedicated to educating growers about the threat of SCN destruction and the importance of testing soil for the elusive pest. Each week, growers were encouraged to learn more about soil sampling and how to effectively manage SCN.
In 2022, BASF gave out 538 soil test kits and analysis to growers, and the results were eye-opening. Below are a few key takeaways from this year’s SCN Action Month soil sample kits and analysis:
• SCN was present in 77% of the samples (up 4% from the previous year).
• The average egg count across all the samples was 2,882 eggs per 100cc.
• SCN was at damaging levels (>500 eggs/100cc) in half of the samples.
“Once you know your numbers, creating a plan each year should be at the top of your list because once a seed is planted in the ground, there is nothing you can do to protect your seed, roots and plants from SCN,” said Mullock. “With SCN populations becoming resistant to PI 88788, managing nematodes has become more complicated than ever. This has led to higher populations and more hidden yield loss.” Growers can implement four simple ways to actively manage SCN on their farms:
• Test fields yearly to know their numbers.
• Rotate resistant varieties.
• Rotate to non-host crops.
• Consider using a seed treatment nematicide.
“Getting ahead of the game by using a seed treatment each season like ILEVO® seed treatment from BASF will allow your soybean crops to be protected, no matter the conditions,” said Mullock. “ILEVO seed treatment is the only proven winner against SCN and has an unmatched track record of success. SCN can be a wake-up call to growers, but thankfully it is not a death sentence. It’s important for growers to be proactive and take the time to educate, test their soil in the fall and implement a plan each year to help prevent further SCN damage.”