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Is Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) in Your Fields? Sample Now and Find Out

Is Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) in Your Fields? Sample Now and Find Out
By Adriana Murillo-Williams and Paul D. Esker
Soybean cyst nematode (SCN, Heterodera glycines) is widely distributed across the “soybean belt” of the United States, where it is considered the number-one threat to soybean production. In Pennsylvania, SCN was reported Lancaster County in 2002, never to be seen again…until recently, when SCN was documented in additional locations, as part of our free SCN-testing program for soybean farmers offered by Penn State Extension with support from the PA Soybean Board and the SCN Coalition.
Why is soil testing for SCN so important?
Soybean cyst nematode is also known as the “silent yield robber” since it may already be present in your fields causing yield losses without any obvious aboveground symptoms. In these cases, by the time farmers realize there is something wrong with the crop, it usually means that nematode populations are quite high. SCN spreads through soils that contain cysts and infected roots. SCN reduces the ability of the plant to overcome environmental stresses because water and nutrient uptake from the soil is impaired, nitrogen fixation is reduced, and the severity of certain diseases is increased under high nematode populations.
Now, you might be thinking that SCN is a problem of apocalyptic dimensions, but we want to emphasize something very important: SCN populations can be managed, and everything starts with soil testing.
If you want to have a free SCN-nematode test, soil testing bags are available by:
  1. Picking them up outside of the Agricultural Analytical Services Lab Building at 111 Ag Analytical Services Lab, University Park, PA 16802, phone 814-863-0841.
Request sampling bags directly from Adriana Murillo-Williams by writing to her at: (phone number 814-355-4897/814-360-5517). In your request, please provide your name, the number of bags requested, and mailing address where you would like to receive the bags.
All sampling bags will contain sampling instructions and a field history form that needs to be filled out and sent back with the samples. You can also collect your sample in a plastic bag. Make sure you send 1-2 pints of soil with the following information: name, address, county, phone number, email, current crop, field address or GPS coordinates, and field acreage. We will contact you to get additional information.
Samples should be sent to the following address:
Adriana Murillo-Williams
114 Rosehill Drive
Bellefonte, PA, 16823
Feel free to contact your local Penn State Agronomy Extension Educators, Adriana Murillo Williams, Paul Esker ( or Alyssa Collins ( for further information about SCN.
Figure 1. Equipment needed for soils testing for SCN (Photo credit: Adriana Murillo-Williams, Penn State Extension) 
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