Is a new soybean disease in Kentucky a cause for concern?

WINCHESTER, Ky. (WTVQ) – Once only found in the southern region of the country, the red crown rot disease was found for the first time in Illinois in 2018. Now, it’s in Graves County, Kentucky.

Brennan Gilkison of Gilkison Farms has been farming soybean, corn, tobacco, and livestock his entire life in Winchester. He says he’s not concerned yet.

“We’re all about profit in the Ag industry, if we’re not, if we don’t have good profit we’re out of business. Good yields equals profits. You know, we’ve dealt with diseases before, whether it’s rust coming in or the frog eye leaf spot, or any other of these common diseases. This is just another one we’ll have to add to the book and figure it out and learn from it and do the best we can,” said Gilkison.

The fungal disease can be detected by yellow spots on soybean plant leaves. Red discoloration can be found at the base of the plant.

“It’s called crown rot because it’s down at the lower part of the stem right next to the soil line. If you look in that area, it’s going to be a discolored red color. There may be some fungal fruiting bodies that are red and circular that will be in that area as well,” said professor and plant pathologist at the University of Kentucky Carl Bradley.

Not much is known about red crown rot, though it’s possible its effects could significantly damage crop yields. Crop rotation each year is recommended to prevent the disease.

“We do know that crop rotation is important, so rotate to another crop the next year that’s not a host for this particular disease–corn would be a good option that farmers might be able to have so don’t grow continuous soybean year after year, that’s going to help,” said Bradley.

The disease has not yet been detected in Central or Eastern Kentucky, and is causing the most damage in fields that were planted in June, later in the season. As most farmers in Central and Eastern Kentucky plant in March or April, it’s not likely to be a concern for this year’s crop.

“It’s just a small, small area that we know of, but it’s something that farmers in Kentucky will have to be alert of and we’ll have to try to get a better idea of how widespread it is,” said Bradley.

It’s unknown how the disease spread to Kentucky.

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