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Sponsored: Minimize the Impact of Sudden Death Syndrome

Soybean sudden death syndrome (SDS), a highly detrimental disease in soybean fields, keeps growers on their toes each year. The disease has limited management options and greatly impacts plant health and yield.

The fungus that causes SDS thrives in cool, wet conditions, which many growers saw both early and late in the 2016 growing season. Craig Solomon, Mycogen Seeds commercial agronomist, recommends growers take note of fields challenged with SDS and learn how to reduce the risk for future growing seasons.

Identifying SDS
SDS is often overlooked because the above-ground symptoms are unseen until late in the season. Growers may confuse it with other diseases because the symptoms are similar. For example, brown stem rot has similar foliar symptoms, but the root systems show marked differences.

Symptoms of SDS include:

  • The yellowing and browning of leaf tissue between the veins, which is known as interveinal chlorosis. At first, veins will remain green as the rest of the leaf turns yellow. The leaves then fall off after yellowing. This is unlike other diseases where leaves wither and die.
  • Split a stem to examine the pith color. Different pith colors help to identify soybean diseases. Brown stem rot causes the pith to turn brown, unlike SDS where the pith remains white.

Minimize the threat of SDS with preventive measures
SDS strikes early in the growing season, typically in low-temperature, high-moisture environments. The soil-borne fungus, Fusarium solani f. sp. Glycines, causes the disease, and Solomon suggests taking preventive measures, such as: 

  • Selecting varieties with high ratings for SDS.
  • Managing soybean cyst nematode (SCN); SCN creates wounds, creating the opportunity for SDS to infect the plant.
  • Improving field drainage.
  • Implementing crop rotation since soybeans are the only known SDS host plant.
  • Making notes on which fields have SDS the worst and plant those last, when soil temperatures are warmer.
  • Applying soybean seed treatments.

Foliar fungicide applications will not control SDS. Understanding your fields and choosing soybean varieties with SDS tolerance is the best way to control the disease.

Manage SDS with the right genetics
Mycogen Seeds tests for SDS, rating varieties on a scale from 1 to 9 in terms of SDS — 9 being most tolerant. Growers who have encountered the disease in previous growing seasons should explore varieties with higher tolerance scores.

To learn more about SDS and other agronomic topics, visit For guidance on variety selection, talk to your local Mycogen Seeds agronomist or seed sales professional.

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