The hot, dry conditions farmers saw during the 2023 growing season brought up ideal conditions for an unwelcome pest in Illinois soybean fields. Soybean Cyst Nematodes, the microscopic worms that live in the soil that feed on the roots of soybean plants, inhibiting nutrient outtake, and causing major yield loss.
To help farmers save money, the Illinois Soybean Association and the University of Illinois Extension service Plant Clinic have teamed up to offer free testing for this microscopic pest. University of Illinois crop sciences professor Nate Schroeder says you can test for these nematodes anytime you are able to get a soil probe into the ground.
“A lot of time when we recommend to do it is, let’s say you just finished a soybean harvest and you want to see if the nematode population increased,” said Schroeder. “Or if you are going into soybeans, and you are thinking about what variety to use, the fall sample can be a good time. But really, any time can be fine as long as you have the opportunity to get out there and sample from your fields.”
Picking a variety of soybeans that includes nematode resistance is one way farmers can combat nematode numbers in their fields. However, Schroeder says if you are still seeing increasing populations, that could mean the nematodes in your field are adapting. When that happens, it means it’s time to look into different types of resistance. He adds that switching to corn on those high-population soybean fields for two years will help slow the population growth of Soybean Cyst Nematodes.
The tests through the Illinois Soybean Association will cover sample testing and shipping through August 31, 2024.