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Angie Peltier

Angie Peltier
Former Extension Educator, Commercial Agriculture

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Hill and Furrow

Current topics about crop production in Western Illinois, including field crops research at the NWIARDC in Monmouth.
Figure. Foliar symptoms of sudden death syndrome and brown stem rot are very similar: yellowing and browning of the leaf tissue between the veins.  Plants suffering from brown stem rot often retain their leaves after death, while those suffering from SDS may lose their leaves but retain petioles.  The best the two diseases is to split open the stem length-wise. (Photo: Daren Mueller, Iowa State University,

Is 2013 gearing up to be a bad year for sudden death syndrome in soybean?

Posted by Angie Peltier - Disease

Sudden death syndrome (SDS) of soybean is caused by a fungus that survives in both plant residue and soil. Early planting and cool, wet soils during seed germination favor seedling infection. High pathogen populations can lead to root rot symptoms. Most often, however, infection goes undetected until much later in the growing season. The fungus resides in root tissue and produces toxins which can be transported to leaves. Symptoms in infected plants are most likely to occur after a significant rain event in soybean plants that are beginning to fill their pods (R3). Foliar symptoms can appear very suddenly and include yellowing and browning of leaf tissue between the major leaf veins (Figure). Yield losses due to SDS can be very severe, leading to 100 percent loss in highly susceptible varieties in some fields in certain years.

This disease was once considered a 'southern problem' since it was identified in Arkansas in 1971. But SDS has made a steady march west and northward throughout the corn-belt and has now been confirmed as far north as Minnesota and North Dakota.

Although there is nothing that can be done in-season to combat SDS, if you have fields that suffer from SDS in 2013, several actions can be taken to lower the risk of SDS-associated yield losses in future growing years. Variety selection can help to reduce disease risk. Soybean varieties vary in their susceptibility to sudden death syndrome. Each year researchers at Southern Illinois University evaluate hundreds of commercially available soybean varieties for their tolerance to SDS. This information can be found on the Varietal Information Program for Soybeans (VIPS) website. The fungus that causes SDS can live inside swollen female soybean cyst nematodes (cysts) and can enter soybean roots through nematode-caused wounds. Consequently, working to reduce populations of the soybean cyst nematode (SCN) can also help to reduce yield losses due to SDS. Lastly, cultural practices that improve soil compaction and drainage can also decrease SDS disease severity.

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