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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Get the Latest on Sudden Death Syndrome at Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference

February 15, 2010

ADA, Ohio – Sudden death syndrome, a soybean disease once confined to just northern areas of Ohio, is now commonly found as far south as the Ohio River. Farmers attending the Ohio State University Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in February will get the latest information about the disease and ways they can manage it.


Anne Dorrance, an Ohio State University plant pathologist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, said that sudden death syndrome (SDS) can develop in fields that remain saturated after a rain event, have poor drainage or experience compaction problems that prevent drainage.

"Any factor that keeps the soil moist for an extended period of time can lead to the development of sudden death syndrome," said Dorrance, who also holds an Ohio State University Extension appointment. "But the biggest factor tied to the disease is soybean cyst nematode."

Dorrance said that the presence of soybean cyst nematode, which has been documented in nearly every Ohio county, favors the expression of the disease.

"When the two are together, symptoms and disease severity tend to be much stronger," said Dorrance.

Bridget Meiring, program coordinator with OSU Extension's C. Wayne Ellet Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic, will present a session, "Soybean Cyst Nematode in Ohio and SDS," will be held at 4:35 p.m. on Feb. 25 during the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference. The session is part of the "Advanced Scouting Techniques" track. The conference will take place Feb. 25-26 at the McIntosh Center of Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. For an agenda and registration information, log on to

During the session, attendees will learn that despite symptoms developing late in the growing season, infection generally occurs during the early part of the growing season, right before plant emergence. The information, based on Iowa State University research, can help growers better manage the disease, said Dorrance.

"For example, planting right before a rain storm may not be such a good idea," said Dorrance. "The information can also help growers better manage SCN, because any seedlings attacked by SCN just creates the perfect situation for SDS."

Dorrance recommends that growers choose varieties that are resistant to sudden death syndrome. In addition, managing soybean cyst nematode is the best way to manage the disease.

"Rotate, rotate, rotate," said Dorrance. "Anything you can do to manage SCN will also help to manage SDS."

The soil-borne pathogen that causes sudden death syndrome, Fusarium virguliforme, produces a toxin that generates the yellow and brown necrosis spots found on the plant leaves.

Dorrance also calls sudden death syndrome the "truck-stopping disease" because its symptoms, generally found on plants along field edges or near ditches, are easily seen from the road causing soybean producers to stop and take a look.


Candace Pollock
Anne Dorrance