It is one of the most heartbreaking things that can happen to a farmer: to watch his bumper crop suddenly die right before his eyes. Sudden Death Syndrome is spreading quickly across soybean fields in a large part of Southern Indiana. Dan Emmert, field agronomist with DuPont Pioneer, says it is the worst outbreak he has ever seen, “Some of the old guys told me this is the worst outbreak and the most widespread infestation of SDS in over 30 years.” He added the excessive rain we have seen in August has made the situation worse, “One of the real differences we are seeing this year is the late summer rains have been almost continuous, and that is just keeps the symptoms developing.” He told HAT fields under irrigation have also been hit extremely hard.
The early planted fields are showing the serious outbreak; and Emmert worries that, as other fields mature, they too may be vulnerable, “As the later planted soybeans and fuller season varieties move along into the pod filling period, they may, too, may start showing signs of the disease.” While all brands and varieties have been affected, he said the lower rated varieties are suffering the most.
“There is no in-season management for these diseases, but it’s important to identify fields that have the diseases to prevent yield loss in future years,” said Kiersten Wise, Purdue Extension plant pathologist. “It can help to know which fields have the disease, so producers can select disease-resistant varieties for the next time the fields are planted to soybeans.” Symptoms of SDS, caused by the fungus Fusarium virguliforme, aren’t typically noticed until August, even though the fungus infects plants early in the growing season during wet, cool weather. Many soybeans emerged from wet soils this spring, so Wise cautioned producers to look for SDS and brown stem rot.
On the corn side, there is good news. Harvesting has begun and early yields look good. Emmert says several fields along the Ohio river have been harvested, “Only the guys who are comfortable harvesting corn at around 20% are willing to start this early.” He expects most growers in SW Indiana to begin to work fields in about 3 weeks.