2020 Solutions for 2019’s Challenges


Many farmers will one day tell their grandkids about the challenges of 2019. The prolonged wet harvest season of 2018 was followed by unrelenting, historic rainfall in the spring, substantially delaying planting. Suboptimal soil conditions for planting in the spring led to restricted root growth, saturated soils, and high incidences of watermolds in soybeans. Looking ahead to 2020, there are numerous management strategies that we can plan for today to help mitigate risks to next year’s soybean crop.


What it looked like in 2019: If your yields have been trending down and you’ve seen stunting or yellowed plants, you should sample for nematodes. Nematodes often feed on the roots of soybeans at a low enough level that there are no visible symptoms to the plant, except for reduced yields. Damage is often worse in drier, sandy soils.

Nematodes Roots

Plan today for 2020:

  1. Be proactive by investing in comprehensive seed treatment, like Beck's Escalate® |Nemasect™ |SDS+. This seed treatment package offers protection against numerous nematode species. It also kills nematodes within 24 to 48 hours after planting and reduces nematode populations for up to 60 days following planting. Nemasect also provides an additional mode of action against insect pests.
  2. Choose varieties with genetic resistance, but beware, many races of nematodes have overcome the PI88788 gene.
  3. Perform tillage and plant fields with a history of nematodes last to avoid spreading the soil-borne pathogen to other fields via your equipment.

Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS)

What it looked like in 2019: The plants were infected early in the growing season during cool, moist periods, but in some cases, the symptoms appeared later in the growing season. Patches of yellow leaves in the canopy typically indicate SDS infection. The symptoms are not from the fungus directly, but rather from the plants sequestering a toxin produced by the fungus to the leaves. Foliar fungicides do not control SDS, but they can help with late-season plant health.


Plan today for 2020:

  1. Select varieties with genetic resistance to SDS. Ratings are available in the Beck’s Product and Program Guide.
  2. Beck's Escalate® |Nemasect™ |SDS+ seed treatment package provides two modes of action to limit infections of the soil-borne SDS fungus. Nematode feeding exacerbates SDS damage, so this comprehensive seed treatment preserves yields in two important ways.

  3. Invest in proper drainage to keeps roots healthier, longer.

White Mold (a.k.a. Sclerotinia Stem Rot)

What it looked like in 2019: White mold is a threat when there is cool weather, high humidity, and restricted airflow in the soybean canopy. This summer, you may have seen areas of fluffy white fungal growth along the stem, together with black sclerotia.

White Mold

Plan today for 2020:

  1. Seed treatments like Escalate| Nemasect | SDS+ provides suppression of white mold from the outset.
  2. Crop rotation away from soybeans can help to limit exposure to white mold. The overwintering structures of the fungal pathogen are viable in the soil for up to seven years, so rotation is not always completely effective.
  3. Selecting varieties with a strong resistance score to white mold is crucial to mitigate disease from the pest, particularly in fields with a history of infection. Check the Beck’s Product and Program Guide for ratings.
  4. Reducing plant population and using wider row widths can help to increase airflow through the canopy. 

Phytophthora Root and Stem Rot

What it looked like in 2019: Phytophthora is a watermold, which means its spores overwinter on residue and then swims through water in saturated soil conditions, attracted to the root systems of soybean plants. Phytophthora is most commonly found in poorly drained soils with continuous soybeans and in no-till systems. Symptoms are typically seen in several consecutive plants down a row.


Plan today for 2020:

  1. Invest in drainage by cleaning out ditches, installing tile, and leveling low spots.
  2. Select varieties with both high field tolerance scores and numerous race-specific RPS genes.
  3. Protect your investment with a seed treatment. Metalaxyl, which comes standard in Beck's Escalate® Yield Enhancement System will help protect your 2020 crop from watermolds.

A careful plan for 2020 can surmount the challenges left in the wake of 2019. Work together with your team of trusted advisers to prioritize investments in your farm to limit risks to your 2020 soybean crop. The common factors to combat all of these threats include a comprehensive seed treatment, genetic resistance, and tile drainage. Detailed agronomic profiles of SDS, white molds, and phytophthora root rot are available on Beck’s website.

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