Be Aware of Seedling Diseases This Year

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With the weather we have been experiencing, it is not  uncommon for seedling disease to make an appearance. When corn and soybean seed remains under ground with cool, wet conditions, seedling blights from various fungi can invade.

There are three seedling diseases we should look out for this year: pythium, fusarium and rhizoctonia. Some fields may escape disease if they get planted after mid-May or are yet to be planted. When soil temperatures rise, the disease will have a hard time thriving. But, it is still important to look out for them, especially this spring.


Pythium damping-off exhibiting a typical brownish water-soaked lesion on the hypocotyl and disintegrated secondary roots. (Sourced from

Pythium is one of the main seedling diseases to show up this year. It can show in a broad diversity of ways because it can affect seedlings before emergence and after emergence. Look for skips in your fields and clumps of skips. Look for yellowing or discoloring of the plants and always dig up the seed where there are those symptoms or a skip. You may find there was no seed to begin with our the seed there is rotting. Root rotting can even impact the mesocotyl, which attaches the primary roots of the seed to the developing seedling. The mesocotyl on healthy plants should be white.

Sometimes it can be hard to determine a seedling disease. In this case, we advise to have the plant sent into a lab for diagnosis. The quality of your sample is extremely important for the best results. Try to dig up as much of the root and plant tissue you can and place the plant in a plastic bag to keep it fresh. Always have a detailed description of the symptoms of the plant, the location you found it and the time it was found including the weather.

The best way to prevent seedling disease is to avoid planting in cool, wet conditions. We know it is especially difficult to do that this year, so anything you can do to help drainage to an extent is helpful. Also, most seed is already treated with fungicide. Make sure you pick a high quality seed with treatments and always plant when the soil temperature is above 50 degrees F. It is also a good idea to have seed treated with insecticide. Planting in-furrow with fungicide is another way farmers are helping provide protection to seed. Sticking with your high quality and full season hybrids has many advantages, even in these delayed planting conditions.

Remember that not all plants will die right away, but the disease could lead to rot problems later down the road. We encourage farmers to stick to their plan this year and reach out to us if you have questions about what your planting plan should include. If you have any questions or would like to go take a look at your fields and get samples, don’t hesitate to contact us.


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