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August Soybean Lookout—White Mold

White mold—also know as Sclerotinia stem rot—is produced by the fungi Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and can cause significant yield loss. It is more prevalent during cool, wet growing conditions especially after canopy is reached.

Disease development
White mold, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, survives in the soil for years. Rain, cool temps, high humidity and wet soils during soybean canopy and flowering are all favorable conditions for the onset of infection. The white mold spores actually infect the flowers of the plant and then travel to the stems.

What to look for
White mold is often recognizable by a white, fluffy growth on the stems below the canopy. Symptoms generally start to show when the soybean plant is between the R3 to R6 stage as gray lesions on and around the stem nodes. After infection, the fungus quickly turns into the white, cotton-like growth. The disease will spread to the leaves, causing the leaves to turn brown and die while remaining attached to the stem. Early things to look for in the soil are mushroom-like structures called apothecia. They are anywhere from one-fourth to one-half inch in diameter.

There are a few options to help manage white mold in your fields. While there are no soybean varieties completely resistant to white mold, you can select varieties that are more resistant than others. No-till cropping systems actually have shown fewer cases of severe infection as the viable fungi decline. When tilled 8-10 inches deep, the fungi have a better chance of survival. Fields with a history of white mold should be rotated to non-host crops such as corn, small grains or alfalfa. Many broadleaf weeds can play host to white mold, and spraying fungicides will reduce the severity of an infection. Timely applications of both herbicides and fungicides will also help reduce the chance of a white mold infection.

If you would like more information regarding white mold, check out the links below:

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