Signs and symptoms of a few soybean diseases have begun to show up in some areas of the state over the last few weeks, and two of these diseases, sudden death syndrome (SDS) and Sclerotinia stem rot (white mold), are likely to cause economic losses in some growers' fields this year, said a University of Illinois plant pathologist.

Carl Bradley explained that symptoms of SDS that currently are being observed include interveinal chlorosis and necrosis of the leaves (veins remain green while the tissues between the veins turn yellow and then brown)."These symptoms look exactly like the foliar symptoms caused by a different disease, brown stem rot. Brown stem rot, however, causes internal browning of the pith in soybean stems while SDS does not affect soybean stems," he said.

On SDS-affected plants, the leaves will fall off eventually, while the petioles will remain attached to the stems and branches.In some cases, Bradley said, a bluish-white mass of spores of the SDS fungus (Fusarium virguliforme) may be observed on the roots.

"Although the foliar symptoms of SDS are now being observed, infection by the SDS fungus occurred during the seedling stage, not long after planting. The symptoms that are now being observed are the effect of toxins that the SDS pathogen produces that are phytotoxic," he said.

Cool and wet weather after planting along with recent rainfall received in parts of the state have been favorable for infection and disease development and are the reasons that SDS incidence is high in some areas this year, Bradley explained.

"The primary method of managing SDS is to choose the most resistant soybean varieties available.Some evidence has shown that high soybean cyst nematode (SCN) egg populations may also increase the likelihood of severe SDS; therefore, managing SCN populations through resistant varieties and crop rotation may also reduce the risk of SDS," he said.

White mold has also been observed in fields located in the northern half of Illinois this year."The appearance of this disease also is weather-related.Areas in the northern half of the state that were cooler and wetter than normal after soybean plants began to flower are the areas that are affected the most severely," Bradley said.

"Unfortunately, once white mold signs and symptoms are detected in the field, fungicide applications generally will be futile as the damage has already been done," he added.

Bradley said that growers with severe levels of white mold may encounter some discounts at the elevator this year for high levels of foreign matter."Some sclerotia (dark survival structures produced by the white mold fungus – Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) that are formed on plants may be similar in size to the seed, and will make their way to the hopper and eventually the elevator, where discounts may be received," he explained.

Management of white mold was discussed in an article on The Bulletin website earlier this year (