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Two crop problems fester

Associated Press

MASON CITY, Iowa -- Crop experts who have recently driven through northern Iowa say soybean yields this year should be very good despite two problems farmers have been battling.

A fungal infection of soybeans called sudden death syndrome and the bean leaf beetle have irritated farmers this season.

"SDS is the kind of thing that you may see this year and not see for another 10 years," said Steve Abbas, executive director of the Franklin County Farm Service Agency. "I've never seen it before and may not see again -- you just don't know."

The fungus attacks the leaves and roots of the plant and is soil-borne, said Don Latham, co-owner of Latham Seeds in Alexander. Plants shrivel and die from the effects.

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"It hasn't shown its face here in north Iowa much," Latham said. "Right now, we're seeing it in quite a few areas."

The fungus first appeared in Iowa in 1994, according to Iowa State University agronomists, and has steadily spread throughout the state.

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