The tiny parasite is found in 84 percent of the state's soybean fields, according to a survey completed last year. It says the parasite has evolved into a pest that can rob yield even from soybean varieties thought to be nematode resistant.
Nematodes are tiny roundworms that suck nutrients from a plant's roots, decreasing its ability to produce beans. It's difficult for farmers to know when their plants are infected because they don't appear sick. Unless farmers sample their soil, they might never know how much they're losing. Some experts say yield losses statewide could reach as high as $250 million per year.
Researchers have spent years looking for the best way to control the soybean cyst nematode, but say they have a remarkable ability to adjust to human intervention. Some suggest farmers not only rotate their corn and soybeans each year, but to change the soybean variety they plant as well.