Identifying it now can save crops from it in the future
By Diego Flammini
As soybean producers are gearing up for harvest, some industry representatives are encouraging farmers to scout for white mould.
“The reason I say now is the time is because (farmers) will get into parts of the field where it becomes somewhat obvious that there’s been a disease that caused yield loss, and based on what I’ve see, white mould will be the number one cause of yield loss,” said Todd Woodhouse, a marketing development agronomist with Bayer CropScence.
Growers with white mould may notice dust, lighter-coloured soybeans with flat pods and black sclerotinia in samples.
Farmers from eastern and western Ontario and Quebec have indicated areas of their fields with this disease, Woodhouse said.
If a producer does notice white mould in his or her soybean field, it’s too late to manage for this year.
But identifying the issue now can help farmers take steps to minimize the chances of white mould developing in the future.
“If you’ve got white mould and you’re planning to put winter wheat in, no-till your wheat if you can,” Woodhouse said. “Combines do a great job of spreading the residue so you’re basically spreading the sclerotinia in the field on the soil surface. Because wheat is a non-host crop, you can no-till your wheat and not disturb the soil.”
The following season, the sclerotinia will go through its cycle and exhaust its spores.
This could pay dividends for producers the next time they plant soybeans, Woodhouse said.
“The next time you plant soybeans, if that’s two or three years down the road, you will have limited infection,” Woodhouse said.
For producers who do engage in tillage after soybean harvest, Woodhouse recommends no-tilling the following crop.
“If you’re going into corn stalks, no-till your beans into the corn stalks,” he said. “Because the sclerotinia is below the soil and unlikely to germinate if the conditions are conducive. This will go a long way to helping farmers manage that.”
No-tilling isn’t the only strategy to manage future white mould issues.
Bayer’s fungicide, Delaro Complete, can help provide protection, Woodhouse said.
Amending plant populations may also help manage white mould in soybeans.
Bayer research indicated white mould was reduced when populations were smaller.
“The research is about a decade old, and we looked at row width and population. White mould (infection) was reduced most of the time when populations were lower,” Woodhouse said. “Row width didn’t seem to matter, but when we dropped standard plant populations, we found farmers only needed about 140,000 plants (per acre) to achieve full yield potential.”