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Detect and Manage Sudden Death Syndrome

June 23, 2020
This agronomic image shows sudden death syndrome

Cool, wet conditions impact soybean fields and may make them more susceptible to Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), a disease that causes U.S. soybean growers to lose millions of bushels each year.

SDS is prevalent across the soybean belt and can cause yield reductions as high as 50%. If you’ve had SDS in your fields before or are in an area near recent confirmations, scouting for the disease can help you plan accordingly and better prepare you for the 2020 season.

The fungus Fusarium virguliforme overwinters in the soil and infects soybean roots at the start of the growing season. Cool, wet conditions are ideal for SDS to affect a large percentage of planted acres. Irrigated fields and those with low nutrient densities, low pH or moderate to severe soil compaction are at a higher risk of infection.

Know the Signs of SDS

Early detection of SDS is key to managing the disease and avoiding widespread damage to your crops. SDS symptoms appear as pale green and yellow spots on the leaves during the reproductive growth stages. Eventually, these spots may grow and turn brown, and leaves may die and prematurely fall from the plant, while petioles remain attached to the stem. Pods and seeds may also be aborted.

These foliar symptoms can be indicators of SDS, but studying the roots can be a stronger indicator of the disease. If SDS is present in your soybeans, you can pull diseased plants out of the ground and see a decayed tap root and lateral roots. If you were to cut the tap root lengthwise, you would see a gray to reddish brown color, and not a healthy white.

Step Up Your Management Plan

Soil management techniques, such as minimal soil movement and compaction, as well as improved soil drainage, can help slow SDS movement and make symptoms less severe. Combining these practices with crop rotation and planting SDS-resistant and/or soybean cyst nematode-resistant varieties can also aid in preventing SDS from drastically impacting your crop.

If you invest in SDS-resistant varieties, the best way to bolster support is through seed treatments that protect your soybeans. The good news is that there are now more options to combat SDS. In 2019, Saltro® fungicide seed treatment gained Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval, which protects against SDS without adding above or below ground stress to the plant.

While above-ground stress can be outgrown, soybeans may not fully recover from the consequences of below-ground stress affecting the roots. Saltro is the upgraded SDS solution that provides superior protection from SDS, and offers activity against nematodes, without adding unnecessary plant stress to help maximize yield potential. Across 4 years of trials, soybeans under SDS pressure treated with CruiserMaxx® Vibrance® + Saltro seed treatment yielded an average 4 bu/A more than soybeans treated with CruiserMaxx Vibrance paired with ILEVO®1. In a low pressure environment, Saltro-treated soybeans yielded 1.8 bu/A higher2Learn more about this SDS treatment.

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Product performance assumes disease presence.

Performance assessments are based upon results or analysis of public information, field observations and/or Syngenta evaluations.

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1U.S. trials with SDS pressure; 2015-2019. Trial locations: AR, IL, IA, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO, TN, WI. Trials with significantly different disease incidence/severity rating between Check and SDS treatment

2Syngenta field trials (n=12), 2015-2017