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Faske Videos Guide Viewers through Nematode Issues for Soybean Growers

By Mary Hightower

Tiny southern root-knot nematodes can make a big dent in yields and managing these miniature roundworms is a top priority for soybean growers.

Nematodes are a large and diverse roundworm family whose members include a host of parasites of humans, livestock and plants, including Guinea worms and barber pole worms. They are blamed for billions of dollars in losses every year.

Travis Faske, extension plant pathologist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, has worked with the SCNCoalition to produce a series of videos called “Let’s Talk ‘Todes,” geared specifically for Arkansas growers.

“There are 100 species of root-knot nematodes and five that can affect soybean production,” Faske said. “One of those five is the southern root-knot nematode, which is the No. 1 nematode problem in the state and has increased in distribution over the past 40 years.”

The southern root-knot nematode is found in 85 percent of Arkansas’ soybean producing counties.

“My program is one of the very few that is conducting applied research to mitigate yield losses by this nematode,” Faske said. “I often get calls from around the country about managing this species on soybean. Just last week I got a call from a soybean farmer in Indiana and one in Oklahoma.”

Faske said he’s been involved with the coalition for a year or two and the videos provided the first opportunity to be a voice over a national platform about nematode issues facing farmers in the South.

As its name implies, the root-knot nematode can feed on a plant’s root system, damaging the plant’s ability to absorb water and nutrients. Damage left by the nematodes can also provide openings for fungal and bacterial infections.

Faske offers management advice in the videos, available at

A key step to managing nematodes is sampling. Samples can be submitted to the Division of Agriculture’s Nematode Diagnostic Laboratory in Hope. (See:

“We are one of the few states that have a nematode diagnostic lab and one of the leading states that has continued to provide farmers support by offering this service free of charge,” Faske said. “Because production systems change every few years, we in extension recommend sampling every three to four years to monitor changes in nematode population densities.”  

“For the past five years the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board has supported free nematode assays,” Faske said. He said that also weather conditions had not been favorable for sampling efforts during the past two years, growers and consultants have been taking advantage of better conditions in 2020.

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