Soybean School: Reducing residue could fend off sudden death

When it comes to integrated disease management, experts have always considered corn a non-host for diseases like sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soybeans.

But that perception is changing says OMAFRA field pathologist Albert Tenuta. In this episode of RealAgriculture Soybean School, Tenuta says there is growing evidence that corn residue can harbour or allow the SDS fungus to grow and sustain itself.

“What we’ve started to see is residue such as cobs and kernels, and soybean roots that are left in the ground can harbour the SDS fungus,” explains Tenuta. The fungus can then have an impact on the next soybean crop when it comes around again in the rotation.

SDS is typically identified by interveinal chlorosis and necrosis of the upper leaves. SDS in soybeans results in average yield loss of about 20 percent and can reach up to 60 percent.

So how do farmers make sure they’re not creating an invitation for SDS and other yield-robbing diseases to set up shop in their fields? Tenuta says extending rotations is a simple solution to the problem. By adding wheat, growers will likely see less SDS than in corn-soy rotations.

See Related: Genetics Lead Fight Against Sudden Death Syndrome

Tenuta also advises farmers to pay attention to the amount of corn residue they leave on their fields. “From a pathology and disease management side of things, minimizing that residue could definitely decrease your disease risk,” he says. But you don’t have to get rid of all the trash. By maintaining 25 to 30 percent residue, Tenuta believes farmers can get the soil health benefits crop residues deliver while also reducing disease risk.

Click here for more Soybean School episodes.


Bernard Tobin

Bernard Tobin is Real Agriculture's Ontario Field Editor. AgBern was raised on a dairy farm near St. John's, Newfoundland. For the past two decades, he has specialized in agricultural communications. A Ryerson University journalism grad, he kicked off his career with a seven-year stint as Managing Editor and Field Editor for Farm and Country magazine. He has received six Canadian Farm Writers' Federation awards for journalism excellence. He's also worked for two of Canada's leading agricultural communications firms, providing public relations, branding and strategic marketing. Bern also works for Guelph-based Synthesis Agri-Food Network and talks the Real Dirt on Farming.


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