Soybean School: On the lookout for soybean cyst nematode in Western Canada

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The threat of soybean cyst nematode lurks in soil carried by any equipment, tire, or boot that crosses from the U.S. into Manitoba. Ontario, too, struggles with the pest, and it seems it’s less of a matter of if and instead when the nematode ends up in Western Canada.

As Dennis Lange, industry development specialist with Manitoba Agriculture says, any time you’re bringing in equipment from an area known to have soybean cyst nematode (SCN), you’re opening up your farm to risk. That said, there are ways to decrease that risk: blowing off equipment before it sees the field, pressure washing equipment, and possibly even disinfecting machinery are all smart options.

“If you’re in an area at high risk, because of flood water or soil movement, do what you can before you get in the field,” Lange says. For those in the Red River Valley of Manitoba, for example, growing soybean cyst nematode resistant varieties may make sense, even though they have yet to confirm the pest in the province. (Story continues below)

When the pest is present, signs and symptoms show up in July or August, but Lange says they can be challenging to find because symptoms resemble other things, such as iron deficiency chlorosis. What’s more, nematode levels have to build over years before you’d see signs. As with other soil-borne pests, high traffic areas, such as entranceways to fields, will likely end up with infestations first, so be sure to scout carefully.

When scouting, Lange says to dig up any soybean plants that are yellowing and check roots for tiny cysts. “They are very small compared to nodules,” Lange says. If you do see something and you’re not sure if it’s SCN or something else, get in touch with an extension person, he says.

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