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Selecting best SCN-resistant varieties can increase profits for soybean growers

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[OCT. 22, 2005]  URBANA -- Some soybean growers could increase their profits by as much as $100 per acre or more simply by planting the highest-yielding varieties with high levels of resistance to the specific type of soybean cyst nematode found in their fields, according to a recent analysis of results from the variety trials conducted at the University of Illinois.

"The exact amount of increased profit in any given year will vary depending on the current price of soybeans," said Terry Niblack, professor of cyst nematode management in the Department of Crop Sciences at the U of I. "In 2004, the amount ranged from about $85 dollar to nearly $115 per acre based on results from three different parts of the state."

She points out that those numbers resulted from a comparison between the highest-yielding resistant varieties matched to the SCN population in the field and lower-yielding varieties that were also highly resistant but not matched to a particular SCN population.

"It is important to note that this method will not work for everyone," Niblack said. "It is effective only when the SCN pressure in a field is high. Another requirement is that SCN-resistant varieties have been grown in that field in the past because that is what allows the nematodes to adapt to the source of resistance."

For growers who meet the criteria, the system requires only a few relatively simple steps to cash in on the increased profits.

The first step is to take a soil sample from an individual field. Details on the proper procedures for taking a sample and preparing it for shipment are available on the website for the Plant Health Initiative at

The samples can then be submitted to the nematology lab at the U of I for an SCN type test. The mailing address is Nematology Lab, Department of Crop Sciences, AW101 Turner Hall, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801.

"We will do an egg count first," Niblack said. "If the level is less than 3,000 eggs per 100 cubic centimeters of soil, then no further tests will be conducted. In such a case, the field does not meet the criteria for the system to work."

Samples that pass the first step are then analyzed to determine the exact SCN type in a field. This greenhouse procedure takes a minimum of 30 days to complete.

The cost is $20 for the egg count and $50 for the SCN type test. The final amount is billed directly to the person submitting the sample.

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"Once the test is completed, the next step is for growers to select one of the highest-yielding varieties with high resistance to the type of nematodes in a specific field," Niblack said. "That information is readily available on the website for the Varietal Information Program for Soybeans, which is more commonly referred to as VIPS."

VIPS serves as a tool for the analysis of the performance of soybean varieties. Funding for the site is provided by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board.

"VIPS provides a wide range of information on most of the soybean varieties included in the U of I's variety trials conducted from 1998 to the present," Niblack said. "Included in the variety comparisons is information on yields and protein and oil content, as well as resistance to various SCN types."

She notes that the site at provided performance data for more than 850 varieties from 72 seed companies in 2004. The latest results are posted each year during the month of November.

"By following those steps, growers who meet the criteria can easily cash in with improved yields in their fields," Niblack. "The final step in the process is as simple as depositing the increased profits in the bank."

[News release from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences]

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