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Illinois Ag News Headlines
Double Cropping with Wheat Shows Promise in Reducing Soybean Cyst Nematodes
Illinois Ag Connection - 06/01/2023

Farmers seeking to mitigate soybean cyst nematode (SCN) populations in their fields have a valuable solution at their disposal: planting winter wheat as part of a crop rotation. Field trials conducted by Southern Illinois University (SIU) researchers have consistently shown that including winter wheat in the rotation effectively suppresses SCN.

Trials conducted across nine fields with varying levels of SCN pressure in south-central Illinois revealed promising results. Soybean strips planted after winter wheat exhibited a 31.8% reduction in SCN counts at mid-season and a 32.7% reduction after soy harvest.

According to Leo Rocha, SIU post-doctoral researcher and ILSoyAdvisor Soy Envoy, the data demonstrates that double-crop beans have lower SCN counts. Wheat in the rotation can be an excellent addition to an SCN management program.

Inspired by previous studies in Kentucky and Tennessee, Rocha attributes the presence of decomposing wheat stubble as a key factor in suppressing SCN populations during the soy field trials. The significant reduction in SCN numbers offers promising prospects for soybean yield preservation.

In addition to SCN suppression, SIU researchers are also investigating methods to control and reduce the incidence of fusarium head blight, or wheat scab. By exploring different management practices and the use of biocontrol agents, they aim to minimize scab's impact on wheat yields and quality, particularly during flowering.

Controlling scab involves utilizing resistant wheat varieties, avoiding planting into infected residue, if possible, and applying fungicide at the appropriate time. Wheat growers in Illinois can monitor the daily map of head scab risk on the wheatscab.psu/edu website to make informed decisions and protect their crops.

As harvest approaches, Illinois has experienced generally low incidence of head scab outbreaks, providing some relief to wheat growers in the state.

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