Soybeans have pluses but growers need to watch for troublesome pests

Soybeans are a success story for farmers looking to change their crop rotation or take advantage of favorable opportunities to sell the crop.

Troy Bauer, a regional technical representative for BASF, who has worked extensively with growers from Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas, said as acres increase because of yield improvements, producers need to realize that also means pests are likely to increase, particularly soybean cyst nematode (SCN), the No. 1 cause of yield loss. Sudden soybean death syndrome (SDS) can also devastate a crop and growers need to scout earlier rather than later.

Scouting is important in both cases, he said.

“You have to dig up your plants and see what is going on below ground,” Bauer said.

An integrated approach should include soils sampling, rotating resistant soybean varieties, rotating with non-host crops and considering seed treatments.

The good news is that BASF has made a commitment to products that can help, he said.

“ILEVO Seed Treatment is a proven winner against both sudden death syndrome and SCN,” he said of BASF’s commitments to growers. “Both of those pests are on the increase as we continue grow more soybeans in the western Corn Belt,” he said.

In the case of SCN, the nematodes can come quickly and are particularly troubling because growers do not see the damage until later in the growing season.

“You can almost have a 30% loss before you even know you have a problem,” he said.

The parasitic roundworm will attack the roots and lay eggs in the soil and hatch, producing juveniles that will burrow into the roots and ultimately impact water and nutrient flow, he said.

 “The juveniles will grow into females and cause the cysts,” Bauer said. Compounding the problem is that a generation can occur in 30 days. “You can get four to six generations a year.”

The best strategy against SCN is to rotate the crop and corn can be included in the rotation. Growers during this time of year can research resistant varieties before purchasing seed for the 2021 season. Also, use an effective treatment like ILEVO.

The best time to sample is in the fall but producers should also take close look in the spring, he said.

The other challenge is sudden soybean death syndrome. It is a disease caused by the soil-borne fungus Fusarium virguliforme. The toxin will go through plant to the upper part of the plants and leaves will drop.

“That will have a drastic impact on yield,” he said.

Premature leaf drop from the toxin can cause a double-digit loss, he said.

The management of SDS is to plant a variety with resistance. That does not prevent it, but does help, Bauer said, adding seed treatment can be a cost-effective move to preserve yield potential.

“If you have SDS in your fields you need to plan how you are going to manage that,” he said.

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Soybeans are integral to feeding the world’s population because of the need for protein whether it goes into human consumption or feeding livestock, Bauer said.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].