Soybean growers in the Midwest continue to struggle with sudden death syndrome (SDS), which was discovered in 1971. According to the Plant Heatlh Initiative, SDS is now considered one of the top four yield-robbing diseases in soybean and appears to be spreading. The disease is capable of devastating soybean fields, affecting some growers’ entire soybean crops and significantly reducing their yield even up to 90 percent in some years.
Bayer CropScience SeedGrowth (formerly Seed Treatment) is studying a product it believes will combat SDS and give growers a much-needed solution to this problem. This new product is a seed treatment that is applied directly to soybean seed and helps to control the Fusarium fungus that causes SDS.
“Sudden death syndrome often doesn’t show symptoms in the soybeans until it is too late for the grower to help their crop,” said Ethan Luth, SeedGrowth product manager at Bayer CropScience, “We know growers are frustrated with SDS, and until now, there hasn’t been a complete solution. However, trials of our new product are showing promising results, and we believe it will help growers to prevent losses from SDS.”
The fungal pathogen that causes SDS favors cool, moist growing conditions for infection. During soybeans’ early development stages, the infection invades the root system, but there are no visible symptoms until after flowering, at which time there are no known treatment options. The fungal infection suddenly becomes obvious as leaves display intervenial yellowing and necrosis, resulting in leaf drop during the critical stage of pod filling and effecting yield potential.
“When managing Sudden Death Syndrome, it is important to utilize an integrated approach,” stated Luth. “Our new SDS product will offer growers a partner to the current genetic tolerance available in many seed varieties today.”
Bayer CropScience has conducted a series of field trials to determine the efficacy of its new product against SDS. During the trial harvests, treated plants appear visibly healthier, display greater tolerance to SDS, and researchers are reporting an increase in yield. The product is still in the testing stages, but Bayer CropScience anticipates that the new SDS product may be available for purchase for the 2015 growing season.
In addition, Bayer CropScience acquired AgraQuest, Inc., a global supplier of innovative biological pest management solutions, in August 2012. This acquisition expands the existing biological pest control portfolio of Bayer CropScience centered on its successful VOTiVO biological seed treatment that protects against pathogenic nematodes. It also allows the company to further leverage the biotechnology platform acquired through Athenix Corporation.
“Adding more biologicals to our SeedGrowth product portfolio allows us to bring seed companies and growers integrated solutions to the disease challenges they face,” stated Luth. “We believe that products based on biological modes of action also will complement the trait technology in our pipeline.”