Between the unusually warm winter and the arid summer, 2012 has shown that Mother Nature is unpredictable. Moving forward into 2013, growers must consider any early-season risks their soybeans might face, and a Rhizoctonia infection is no exception.

Rhizoctonia solani is a common soilborne disease that is likely to cause pre-emergence or post-emergence loss of seedlings, also known as damping-off. The disease is usually restricted to early in the season, and most often occurs when conditions are wet or when germination is slow. However, it has been known to appear in a range of soil moistures and temperatures.

Signs of Rhizoctonia include root rot, seed rot and reddish-brown, sunken lesions on germinating seedlings. Because many seedling pathogens exhibit similar symptoms, Rhizoctonia is often confused with Pythium or Phytophthora.

Yield losses of up to 48 percent from Rhizoctonia have been reported in the U.S., according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, so it is not a disease to be reckoned with.

“Soybean fields are at risk for Rhizoctonia at the beginning of every season because it can appear in a variety of conditions,” said David Winston, seedcare brand asset lead at Syngenta. “Using seed treatments such as CruiserMaxxBeans insecticide/fungicide, a combination of separately registered products, applied with Vibrance fungicide seed treatment will give you multiple layers of protection against Rhizoctonia.”

After the unusual weather seen this year, protecting soybeans against Rhizoctonia should be top of mind next year once the 2013 planting season begins.