Sudden death syndrome in soybeans is hurting farmers in Central Kansas. As heavy rains continue, SDS is spreading beyond Pawnee County and the Kansas River Valley into Central Kansas.

“Historically, areas along the Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas rivers fare the worst,” said Doug Jardine, Ph.D., professor of plant pathology at Kansas State University. “Reno and Sedgwick counties are hotspots for SDS. I’d be surprised if SDS wasn’t showing up.”

Although Jardine is not seeing specific cases in both Reno and Sedgwick County, he said he expects the disease has hit the area.

“It’s a high likelihood that they are seeing SDS in the Arkansas River Valley,” said Jardine, who has worked at Kansas State since 1985.

SDS tends to hit hardest on well-managed fields with high yield potential. A soil-borne fungus causes this disease. Jardine said SDS also tends to be more prevalent in fields that are infested with soybean cyst nematode, compacted and planted early - when soils are cool and wet.

Although farmers in Reno County are not reporting SDS, they know there is always a chance for this fungus to hit their crops --- especially, if the area receives heavy rains before the early October harvest.

“Surprisingly, it hasn’t been a serious problem (for me) this year,” said Ron Jacques of Jacques Farms in Hutchinson. “But it still can occur.”

Jacques said he and his sons are trying to get soy varieties that have more resistance to SDS. And because last spring was so wet, they planted their approximately 2,000 acres of soybeans late.

Norman Roth of Roth Farms in Hutchinson said he has not experienced SDS, but he was not able to plant in some areas of his farm this year because of flooding. Also, some of his soybean plants were drowned in late May.

“We still have the potential for a little above average crop,” Roth said. “But it’s not going to be a bumper year.”


SDS starts as a small bright circular spot on the leaves during the early growth stages and late vegetative stages. As the disease advances, the spots turn brown and enlarge. They vary in shape. The veins remain green. When the leaves turn brown and drop, the petioles remain. This symptom is similar to brown rot and stem canker, which is also being reported in Kansas.


Jardine said farmers should try to plant SDS resistant varieties of soybeans, although most varies still have the ability to succumb to the fungus – just in smaller amounts. Seed companies have SDS ratings.

Because soybean cyst nematode - or SCN - is often present with SDS, if a farmer notices SDS, Jardine recommends that the farmer take soil samples to see if SCN is present. If SCN is present, it will also have to be managed.

In addition, Jardine recommends using a product that contains the active ingredient fluopyram at planting time. This product has proven beneficial in Kansas State research trials.

Jardine recommends planting SDS infested fields during warmer temperatures, avoiding planting in wet soil and reducing compaction problems. 2016 was the worst year in Kansas for SDS. Because of the above recommendations, Jardine does not expect to experience as great of a loss with this year’s crop.