Soybean Sudden Death Syndrome Expands

Soybean Sudden Death Syndrome Expands

Northward movement of Sudden Death Syndrome disease expands the threat to soybean yields. Growers can help manage this disease by planting SDS-tolerant bean varieties.

Yield loss caused by sudden death syndrome (SDS) continues to plague growers throughout the Midwest. Researchers at Pioneer Hi-Bred say planting SDS-tolerant soybean varieties are key to managing the disease.

SDS originally was considered an issue for the southern soybean-growing region, but now has moved as far north as Minnesota and as far east as Ohio. For many affected areas, SDS ranks second in economic losses only to soybean cyst nematode (SCN). "There's a 40% chance for growers in highly infested areas, such as those in Iowa and Missouri, to have 12% yield loss annually," says Scott Nelson, a Pioneer agronomy research manager.

Conditions favoring disease development may result from early planting, high rainfall and/or low-lying, poorly drained or compacted field areas. Cool, moist conditions early in the growing season often result in higher disease incidence.

"Although infection occurs early in the season, symptoms usually do not appear until mid-summer," Nelson says. The appearance of symptoms often is associated with cooler temperatures and high rainfall during flowering or pod-fill.

Soybean variety selection is key management practice to reduce yield loss

Soybean varieties with SDS tolerance often don't incur the severity of symptoms non-tolerant varieties do. For this reason, variety selection is a key

management practice to reduce plant damage and yield loss. To assist growers in choosing resistant varieties, Pioneer researchers rate products in multiple test sites with known historical SDS occurrence. Tolerance data are collected and analyzed across years to determine the appropriate SDS tolerance score.

Pioneer research efforts, including use of marker-assisted selection and the Accelerated Yield Technology (AYT) system, are providing higher levels of tolerance to sudden death syndrome in high-yielding, elite soybean varieties. Pioneer now has varieties that score as high as an 8 for SDS tolerance on a 1 to 9 scale (9 being most tolerant).

"Growers saw strong yield advantages from elite Pioneer brand soybean varieties," Nelson says. "Providing multiple resistance traits in the same variety is especially important to manage SDS, because both SDS tolerance and SCN resistance are frequently needed in the same product."

Even with tolerant beans, you may still see some yield loss due to SDS


Despite genetic tolerance, farmers may still encounter yield loss from SDS. Nelson says practices to minimize yield loss include improving drainage and avoiding planting windows when the seed will be in cold wet conditions. Managing soybean cyst populations through crop rotation and sources of resistance also will improve tolerance to SDS. "SCN problems can make the crop more vulnerable to SDS," Nelson says.

SDS is a disease that easily can be confused with other diseases such as brown stem rot. For an accurate diagnosis, growers should consult their local agronomist. For more information on managing SDS, SCN resistance, tolerant varieties with top yield potential and other important traits for your area, contact your local Pioneer sales professional or visit           

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