Each spring, tiny roundworms hatch and wriggle over to the nearest soybean root to feed. Before farmers are even aware of the belowground infestation, the soybean cyst nematode silently begins to wreak havoc on soybean yield.
Fortunately, breeders have identified soybean varieties with genetic resistance to the nematodes and have used them to create new resistant varieties. As you might expect, resistant varieties yield more than susceptible ones when SCN is in the soil. But, until now, it wasn’t clear whether that yield advantage held up at low SCN infestation rates.
“The University of Illinois has been organizing a regional testing program of university-developed experimental soybean lines through funding from the United Soybean Board. In the last decade, we have collected data on agronomic performance, including yield, but also data on the resistance of the lines as well as on SCN pressure in the field. We’ve built up a massive dataset from these tests,” said Brian Diers, University of Illinois soybean breeder.