Cyst Nematode

  • Symptoms

  • Trigger

  • Biological Control

  • Chemical Control

  • Preventive Measures

Cyst Nematode

Heterodera glycines


In a Nutshell

  • Adult females in cysts feed on the roots and root nodules.
  • Damage results in apparent symptoms of stress or nutrient deficiencies.
  • Stunted growth and chlorotic leaves have given the ”yellow dwarf disease” its name.




The cyst nematode is a plant parasitic worm that feeds on roots. Symptoms are very similar to drought stress or nutrient deficiency on leaves. Stunted growth and chlorotic leaves have given the ”yellow dwarf disease” its name and result in yield losses. Five weeks after sowing, white to yellow points can be observed on the roots. Under a magnifying glass, the nematodes appear as tiny, white or brown lemon-shaped objects on the roots while the cysts are pinhead-sized and show as little specks.


Adult females and cysts feed on the roots and root nodules, resulting in plants with nutrient deficiency symptoms and stunted growth. There is a clear relation between the number of nematodes in the soils and the effect on the plant. The nematode is easily spread via wind, water, animals and infected soil on equipment and tools. At soil temperatures around 25°C the nematode's life-cycle is completed in 4 weeks.

Biological Control

Products containing Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus Pumilus can be used to control its population. These bacteria inhibit the life-cycle of the nematode.

Chemical Control

Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatment if available. Once present in the soil, the nematodes cannot be eliminated. However, you can control their reproduction to some degree by applying nematicides.

Preventive Measures

Check for high yield varieties in infested fields.,Monitor your field for the presence of nematodes before planting by taking a soil sample.,Rotate with non-hosts such as corn, sunflower, sorghum and resilient varieties.,Use cover crops (ex: clover) as alternative hosts to attract nematodes away from soybean plants.,Check your weeds carefully as these can favour population build-up.,Fertilize to optimize plant growth.,Take particular care of not spreading the nematode with equipment and tools.