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Developing integrated management strategies and communication plan for soybean sudden death syndrome

Principal Investigator: Milad Eskandari and Albert Tenuta

Research Institution: University of Guelph

Timeline: October 2020 – September 2022  


  • Objective 1. Determine how fungicides and nematicide seed treatment, in-furrow, and foliar fungicides will affect SDS and SCN:
  • Evaluate the efficacy of nematicides seed treatments (biological and chemical) against SDS and SCN.
  • Develop stewardship guidelines for effective products (maximize longevity (lifespan) of products and slow/stop pathogen resistance to these products.
  • Objective 2. Field evaluation of integrated management of sudden death syndrome and understanding their “side effects” on F. virguliforme population and soil health.
  • Objective 3. Develop models to quantify the negative yield impacts of SDS foliar symptoms and root rot and produce a meta-analysis of SDS-yield relationship. 
  • Objective 4. Study genetic and virulence variability of F. virguliforme using differential soybean varieties and resistance mapping for foliar chlorosis and necrosis of sudden death syndrome.
  • Objective 5. Communicate research results with farmers, agribusinesses and other stakeholders.


  • Working with Grain Farmers of Ontario, the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP) Soybean Research Information Initiative (SRII), United Soybean Board (USB) through the Crop Protection Network (CPN) ( to develop new Extension outputs on SDS will help improve awareness, management, reduce losses and determine a “Return On Investment (ROI)” for the various SDS management strategies. 
  • Will provide Ontario farmers with an unbiased evaluation and summary of which SDS products (current and new) are most effective, profitable and how best to incorporate these products into a sustainable integrated SDS management strategy on their farms as well as the benefits of a fungicide stewardship plan.
  • The development and adoption of an effective integrated SDS management program by farmers will not only reduce losses, maximize yields, and increase profits, but will also minimize any potential negative impacts on soil health.
  • The development of SDS models will assist farmers and agribusiness to accurately predict disease risk, quantify yield losses (bu/ac), and identify “zones” in the field where different SDS management strategies can be targeted to reduce yield losses and minimize input costs, etc.
  • The evaluation and development of better soybean varieties with increased SDS resistance and with Ontario SDS ratings specific to Ontario conditions will allow for more seamless incorporation into an integrated SDS management program, therefore not only increasing disease control but reducing farmer risk significantly.

Scientific Summary:

Soybean sudden death syndrome is an annual threat in southwestern Ontario and most of the North Central region. In 2014, this disease alone caused an estimated loss of nearly 62 million bushels in the U.S. and Ontario, valued at approximately $617 million (Allen et al. 2017, Plant Health Prog. 18: 19-27). Yield losses in Ontario associated with SDS infection can range from minimal (5%) to significant (80%), and the disease continues to move into new areas of the province.  A conservative yield loss estimate due to SDS for Ontario soybean producers is likely in the $15-25 million range per year.

The foundational management strategy for sudden death syndrome (Fusarium virguliforme) in soybean is using resistant cultivars. As part of a previous Grain Farmers of Ontario and NCSRP project, we have been evaluating industry standard susceptible and resistant cultivars in Ontario and the North Central US region, and resistant cultivars have shown less disease and more yield than the susceptible cultivars in many evaluations. From these studies, it was also obvious that SDS ratings based on US data do not necessarily transfer to Ontario and provincial variety evaluation is important for not only SDS but other diseases as well. SDS has been increasing in spread and severity in the province, and with favourable environmental conditions for disease development, it is evident that resistance alone does not provide adequate disease control or reduce farmer risk sufficiently. As the disease continues to spread into new areas such as Central and Eastern Ontario and the upper great plains and great lake states regions of the US, we have an opportunity for early education and improved awareness of the importance of using an integrated management program for SDS. Thus, the main goal of this project is to investigate management options that will help ensure resistant cultivars will be as effective as possible in years when conditions are highly conducive for SDS.

External Funding Partners:

This project was funded in part by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year federal-provincial-territorial initiative.