Extension Ag Update
November/December 2003
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2004 Field Survey Shows Widespread Outbreak of SDS

Glen Hartman, 217-244-3258 Source: Rob Wynstra, 217-333-9446, wynstra@uiuc.edu

Soybean growers across Illinois faced greater than normal outbreaks of sudden death syndrome (SDS) during the current growing season, according to a recent field survey by researchers from the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. The survey is conducted in late August and early September of each year to determine the levels of various diseases as the soybean crop heads toward harvest. Primary funding is provided by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board.

"This year we found large numbers of fields in the middle to northern part of the state with severe outbreaks of SDS," said Glen Hartman, USDA plant pathologist at the U of I. "Jason Bond and his team from SIU found the same results in their part of survey, which covered the southern counties of Illinois. Except for the northern-most tier of counties, we found SDS to be widespread across the entire state."

The survey covered at least five fields from every county in the state. In some counties, more than 20 fields were evaluated for the presence of disease problems. "The survey involves much than simply driving by a field," Hartman said. "We stopped at a minimum of five fields per county. We then took a close look at what plant disease problems were present and evaluated their severity in the specific field."

Hartman notes that this year's results were quite similar to what they found in 1997, which was a severe year for SDS. "The incidence of SDS in this survey was probably double or triple what we found last year," he said. "The disease was clearly back in force. I would rank this as one of the top two or three worst years for SDS since we have been taking the survey." According to Hartman, severity of the disease varied from just a few spots to more than half of a field. "Some counties in the central part of the state were particularly hard hit," Hartman said. "In some areas, you could hardly drive along without seeing signs of the disease almost everywhere you looked."

Hartman points out that the high incidence of SDS in the survey is likely related to the cooler than normal temperatures and wetter conditions during the current growing season. "While it was the most severe problem that we found, SDS was not the only disease that showed up during the survey," Hartman said. "There were certain counties, especially in the northern part of the state, where we ran into quite a bit of white mold, brown stem rot, and even stem canker."