WAHPETON, N.D. — A disease usually found in southern Minnesota is showing up in some North Dakota soybean fields.

Agronomists and agriculture agents advise farmers in Richland County, in far southeast North Dakota, to watch for warning signs of sudden death syndrome. Common in southern Minnesota and South Dakota, the disease has symptoms and pathogens which correspond with plant samples taken from Richland County in 2018.

“It’s not something that we’ve detected in North Dakota until last year,” said Chandra Langseth, agriculture and natural resource agent for the NDSU Extension of Richland County.

Sudden death syndrome is commonly observed in a crop’s leaves. Yellow spots between leaf veins, or interveinal chlorosis, is an early symptom. The lesions may expand and turn brown while the spots expand between veins, Crop Protection Network reported. This condition is known as interveinal necrosis.

“As the disease progresses, leaves die and prematurely fall from the plant, while petioles remain attached to the stem,” Crop Protection Network reported.

Pathologists from North Dakota State University surveyed hundreds of fields, largely in eastern North Dakota, in 2018. Plants with typical sudden death symptoms were identified in central Richland County. Samples from that field and other fields in the area were taken and continue to be tested.

“We start to see the symptoms in late July and early August, so it’s a good opportunity to talk about this now,” Langseth said. “Affected plans look pretty much healthy until this point. It starts minor and becomes severe.”

It is uncertain how sudden death syndrome pathogens arrived in Richland County.

“This is a residue-borne disease, which can move with soil and plant residue. Other diseases we’ve seen are moved with equipment or through soil erosion. With sudden death, we’re unsure how long the pathogen’s been here and where it came from,” Langseth said.

Yield losses due to sudden death syndrome can be highly variable and depend on several factors, according to Crop Protection Network.


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