Grower Resource: 2016 Soybean Disease Forecast with Dr. Damon Smith

Wondering abut the 2016 Soybean Disease Forecast? Dr. Damon Smith, UW Extension Plant Pathologist, recently sat down with Fabulous Farm Babe Pam Jahnke to discuss the upcoming growing season.

With weather forecasters predicting a wet spring and a dry summer, Dr. Smith acknowledges growers are facing a worst case scenario.

Dr. Smith foresees challenges with getting the seed into the ground and then protecting seedlings from pathogens. He urges growers to keep an eagle eye out especially during the critical period from the bloom to the formation of pod sacks.

Before planting, Dr. Smith suggests growers do some research to choose the best genetic seed for their fields. He also suggests testing for soybean cyst nematode (SCN) and to pick seed with robust resistance to SCN, as many seeds are.

Dr. Smith also recommends investing in seed treatment to help plants get established rather than pulling back.  Without seed treatment, or with less of it, growers risk the loss of a good plant stand. And that will result in a loss of yield at harvest.

A couple of diseases deserve special mention.

White mold has been an ongoing issue for Wisconsin soybean growers, and your checkoff dollars are being put to good use by Dr. Smith and others to learn more about this disease and how to head it off. One approach that holds great promise is a weather forecasting tool that will help growers know the current threat of of white mold and allow for  optimally-timed application of fungicide.

Stem chancre is another plant disease that has been reemerging of late. Unfortunately, it is easily confused with white mold. For a definitive analysis, Dr. Smith suggests growers send in samples to the UW diagnostic clinic should their plants show distress.

What accounts for the reemergence of stem chancre? It may reflect some loss of resistance in the seed breeding program. Also, the increase of no-till acreage may also be a contributing factor.

You can hear Dr. Smith’s complete interview here. You can also follow him on Twitter (@damon_lee_smith), on his own blog, on coolbeans, and right here on

Through the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, your soybean checkoff dollars directly support Dr. Smith’s research, as well as the research of Dr. Shawn Conley and others. The work of these field scientists help Wisconsin growers fight disease, increase yields and support sustainable farming.