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SDS could be severe in 2013 soybeans

Though weather and field conditions have largely returned to normal, the cool, wet spring continues to cause headaches for farmers, now in the form of increased chances of a major soybean disease.

Sudden death syndrome (SDS) thrives in years when things are cool and damp in the spring, just like this year. That means the odds of your fields getting infected with the yield-robbing disease are higher than normal depending on your specific conditions, says DuPont Pioneer senior research manager Jeff Thompson.

"SDS varies in severity from area to area, and from field to field, but as a result of the cool, moist soil conditions earlier this season there may be a higher incidence of SDS in soybeans this year," Thompson says in a report from Pioneer. "Growers must understand clearly the extent of infection in each of their fields to effectively manage this disease so scouting becomes essential."

If you fought a wet, cool spring, look for a few common early symptoms of SDS, namely small, pale-green spots during soybean flowering, Thompson says. Those spots worsen in severity quickly. "The most visible symptoms will occur as necrotic lesions during pod-fill, when plants are focused on water uptake and sending nutrients to the developing seed," he adds.

Also, check your roots, especially around two weeks after any heavy rainfall event. Both taproots and lateral roots will see deterioration. As soils stay wet, look for a bluish fungus on the roots, too. Ultimately, these factors will cause general atrophy of infected soybean plants via lower water and nutrient uptake, Thompson adds.

Another variable that can affect your crop's susceptibility to SDS damage is whether you've got soybean cyst nematodes in your field, as they tend to weaken your crop to the point where other diseases like SDS can step in and inflict damage, according to Thompson.

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