It’s the Season for Controlling Soybean Cyst Nematode

Oct 20, 2023

October is known as soybean cyst nematode (SCN) action month because this is the best time to get out and soil sample for SCN. The end of a soybean season is when SCN levels will be at their highest in the soil. Currently, the Nebraska Soybean Board is sponsoring soybean cyst nematode sample analysis for samples from any Nebraska field. 


Whether you have verified yield loss from SCN, or not, there is a good chance that the parasite has a presence in some of your fields (Figures 1 and 2). SCN is a small roundworm that has slowly spread across the Nebraska production region since being identified in the state in 1986. As of Oct. 1, 2023, SCN has been identified in 59 Nebraska counties (Figure 3).


This pest is the number one yield-limiting biotic agent of soybeans in North America, estimated to cost U.S. producers $1.5 billion a year. The reason this pest is so insidious is because SCN can cause up to 30% yield loss with no significant aboveground symptoms.

The pest is typically introduced into new fields by soil movement on field equipment and is often distributed in pockets throughout the field. For this reason, keep an eye on your yield monitor during harvest to identify unexplained low-yielding areas. The most accurate way to verify SCN presence in a field is soil sampling.


To take advantage of this program, request a shipment of free soil sample bags online or contact your local extension office and submit soil samples using the following procedure.


Sampling Procedure


Collect SCN samples with a 1-inch diameter soil sampling probe or spade. Collect at least 15 to 20 soil cores in a zigzag pattern from across the field. Samples should be collected from the root zone at a depth of about 6-8 inches across about 10 to 20 acres. Break up the collected soil cores and mix them well in a bucket. Place at least 2 cups of the composite soil sample in a bag and submit for SCN testing. A sealable plastic bag works great to prevent samples from drying, or use marked SCN sample bags available at your local Nebraska Extension office or the UNL Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic.


While sampling, keep in mind that anything that can move soil can move soybean cyst nematode. For this reason, there are several areas with increased SCN introduction risk. Below is a list of high-risk areas that you should consider sampling. 


Areas of the field where soybean crops yielded less than expected

  • Areas of the field where soybean plants appeared stunted, yellow, and/or defoliated earlier than the rest of the field
  • Low spots in fields
  • Previously flooded areas of fields
  • Field entryways
  • Along field borders
  • Areas where sudden death syndrome (SDS) or brown stem rot (BSR) developed

Submit samples to:


UNL Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic

448 Plant Sciences Hall

P.O. Box 830722

Lincoln, NE 68583-0722


Learn more about the program and management techniques at:


About the Nebraska Soybean Board: The nine-member Nebraska Soybean Board collects and disburses the Nebraska share of funds generated by the one-half of one percent times the net sales price per bushel of soybeans sold. Nebraska soybean checkoff funds are invested in research, education, domestic and foreign markets, including new uses for soybeans and soybean products.


SCN map of Nebraska as of Oct. 1, 2023.

Soybean field with visible symptoms of SCN damage. However, it’s important to know that SCN does not always cause visible symptoms and that up to 30% yield loss can occur in the absence of other symptoms. (Photo by Kyle Broderick)