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Management of corn and soybean nematodes

Principal Investigator

Albert Tenuta

Research Institution

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)

Project Start

March 2014

Project End

March 2017


  • Survey Ontario field crop fields for nematode distribution and population levels to gain baseline information.
  • Investigate the potential impacts of combinations of corn-soybean rotation schemes and cover crop combinations on plant parasitic nematode population densities in Ontario agricultural fields.
  • Evaluation of new nematicide seed treatments for corn and soybean nematode control.
  • Increase awareness of corn nematodes in Ontario and soybean cyst nematode (SCN) in new regions of the province such as eastern Ontario.


  • The adoption and increased awareness of integrated management options for nematodes in corn and soybeans will allow farmers to manage soybean cyst nematode (SCN) effectively.
  • The evaluation and registration of new nematicide seed treatments will provide more options to farmers who have to manage SCN.
  • The investigation of agronomic benefits and detriments of cover crops species in relation to root lesion nematode and other pathogens will allow farmers to effectively integrate cover crops into their cropping system.

Scientific Summary

The most familiar example of nematodes to most Ontario farmers is the soybean cyst nematode (SCN – Heterodera glycines), which causes the greatest yield loss in soybean of any pathogen. Conversely, in those same fields, is a diversity of other less familiar plant parasitic nematodes that infect roots of corn, soybean, wheat and other crops. In contrast to SCN, these nematodes are native to Ontario and are present in every production field to some extent. Instead of a single species, there are more than a dozen species of nematodes commonly found in fields where corn is grown. Unlike soybeans where many management options are available to the producer, such as resistant varieties and crop rotation, this is not the case in corn. Often misdiagnosed and misunderstood, corn nematodes as stated above have become a growing problem in Ontario and the US corn-belt as a result of changes in production practices. The use of cover crops integrated into traditional corn-soybean production is a sustainable agriculture practice that is also increasing in use throughout Ontario. Cover crop and crop rotation impacts on nematode population densities are largely dependent upon the nematodes that are present and the suitability of the crop plants as their host.

This project aims to continue work started in Grain Farmers of Ontario’s supported CAAP 0377 project, titled “Evaluation of nematicides for SCN management, corn and soybean nematode management.” A corn nematode survey will be conducted to gain a better understanding of the potential for corn yield loss due to nematodes by collecting baseline information on the distribution and population densities of corn-parasitic nematode species throughout the province. This project will also address the effects of rotation and cover crops on overall production with an emphasis on nematode population dynamics. The overall management concept for all deleterious nematodes affecting Ontario field crops is population management; this project will directly identify the effect of cover crops on nematode populations which is a current gap in our knowledge of the production system used by Ontario farmers.