DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct. 27, 2009 - Cool, wet growing conditions this year have increased disease pressure in some soybean fields, cutting into yields and crop quality. While this season will soon be history, lessons learned from 2009 can help growers better select soybean varieties to combat diseases for next year to maximize yields, say experts from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business.
"Heavy disease pressure has been reported this year in fields to diseases such as white mold , soybean cyst nematode  (SCN) and brown stem rot  (BSR)," says Don Schafer, Pioneer senior marketing manager for soybeans.
While growers may face unknown conditions each year, they can be better prepared by selecting soybean varieties with defensive traits resistant to these types of diseases.
According to Schafer, white mold has been reported across most states in the northern Corn Belt including Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska. A sporadic disease that does not have widespread incidence every year, white mold can survive up to 10 years in soils, necessitating more than just rotation with nonhost crops like corn, sorghum and small grains.
"2009 is one of the heaviest years for white mold we have seen in the past 10 years," Schafer says.
BSR surfaced in its typical areas of northern Illinois, northern Indiana, southwest Michigan, and southern Minnesota but also is showing up in atypical areas such as northeast Nebraska and South Dakota.
Schafer reports other diseases, such as sudden death syndrome  (SDS), are afflicting new areas as well.
"We're also seeing SDS pressure in new places," Schafer says. "The geographies impacted by SDS have expanded this year, with the disease moving both west and north."
As one of the most destructive soybean pests, SCN infestations pose another chronic threat to crops. Annually, SCN costs growers more than $1 billion. Effectively managing nematodes requires scouting, sampling and rotating crops and using sources of SCN resistance. To complicate matters, the presence of SCN can cause further stress in fields already plagued with BSR or SDS. Selecting the right combination of genetics, agronomic and defensive traits with specific seed treatments will help set the stage for growers to have a successful soybean crop.
"Even with increased disease pressure this growing season, Pioneer® brand soybean products are performing remarkably well," Schafer says. "The advancements we have made in research using molecular markers and other technologies have greatly improved the products we are bringing to the marketplace."
Pioneer uses Advanced Yield Technology (AYTTM) to improve yield and develop seed products with higher tolerance to diseases. These include traits designed to tolerate soybean diseases, such as BSR and Phytophthora root rot, as well as pest pressures like SCN.
To combat these diseases, Pioneer recommends tailored solutions to help each grower choose the right product for the right acre for the 2010 planting season.
"Pioneer has unique genetics, does local testing and allows growers to spread risk by providing products with a trait package that best suits each field," Schafer says. "By understanding the crop management practice of each field, it is easier to help the grower select the right products. For example, if it's a field with a history of no-till and tends to be planted early in the season, selecting seed products that offer good emergence scores, a solid track record of standibility and a strong disease package is recommended. Pioneer also provides growers with the option of fungicide and insecticide treatments."
Pioneer recently announced its Premium Seed Treatment offering for the 2010 planting season, providing an additional layer of protection to complement proprietary genetics and industry-leading traits. Soybean growers need more solutions than ever against early diseases and insect infestations. Combining exceptional genetics, solid agronomic traits and the appropriate defensive traits with seed treatments can reduce the risk of these yield-robbing diseases.
While predicting conditions for next year is always a gamble, adding soybean treatments can offer reassurance because treatments are customized to meet each grower's specific insect and disease pressures.
Pioneer Hi-Bred , a DuPont business, is the world's leading source of customized solutions for farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors. With headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer provides access to advanced plant genetics in nearly 70 countries.
DuPont  is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food; building and construction; communications; and transportation.