I’m always looking for a reason to talk about my dog because, well, I’m obsessed with him. I think I can use him to draw a good analogy of the importance of season-long scouting in your soybean fields. Let me put it like this: my dog is a living thing that I care for deeply. As he cannot talk, I am the only one who can advocate for him and his wellbeing. Just because my dog is getting old (he’s 10.5 but has had a number of serious health problems thus far in life), doesn’t mean I stop paying attention to him or stop caring for him.

To many, science can seem like magic. Abracadabra and *whoosh* something appears seemingly out of thin air. However mystical and misunderstood science can be, it is not magic. It is science. As such, things cannot be manifested out of nothing.

“But Chelsea, why on earth are you talking about science and magic?”

Simply put, I want to spin you a cautionary tale that may be more familiar than you realize. The tale is that of fungicides and disease management in soybean.

photo of a sweat bee covered in pollen

Did you know that more than one-third of the food humans consume depend on pollinators for reproduction, i.e., fruit set? And when talking about flowering plants, three-quarters require pollinator intervention for reproduction. 

Granted, I know my audience here is primarily corn and soybean producers in Illinois. Corn plants are designed for pollen to fall on the silks, and soybean flowers are self-pollinating. So why worry about pollinators? 

title of article in a graphic form

It’s never too early to think about plant diseases!

There are few sure things in this great wide world of ours. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, gravity holds us down to the earth, and living things are susceptible to pests and pathogens. 

When you put your beans out in the field, there are numerous plant diseases than can wreak havoc in your field. However, the incidence and severity of a disease can be highly variable, and management can be tricky. 

hands holding a telescope looking to the future

Much of the 2020 crop has just been harvested, but it's never too early to discuss crop diseases in the forecast for 2021. 

Did you come here thinking you might actually get some idea of what diseases will prove problematic next year? Good. Am I going to give you specific diseases for which to watch out? No. But I do want to tell you about a concept that will make disease prediction in 2021 easier: the plant disease triangle. 

corn seeds, soybean seeds, and grain storage bins.

Needless to say, we have had an extremely atypical growing season in 2019. A prolonged planting window due to relentless rains, with many fields not planted until June, have resulted in many higher-than-average grain moisture levels at harvest. Observing elevated harvest moisture on a widespread basis throughout Illinois can have some inadvertent ramifications for grain storage. Please consider this following hypothetical chain of events: 

A combine harvesting soybean plants

There is no doubt that the 2019 growing season has been full of ups and downs. First there were the relentless rain events that delayed planting in the spring. Next we had an extended period without any rainfall late in the summer. And then, when it was about time to think about getting out in the fields to start harvesting, another round of consistent rain. We simply could not catch a break.