USDA, Agricultural Research Service, and Department of Crop Sciences
Department of Crop Sciences, 70 EASB, 1101 W. Peabody, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana 61801-4723
Sclerotinia stem rot (SSR) of soybean is an important disease in the northern soybean-production areas of the United States. In Illinois, the occurrence of SSR has been limited to the northern-most soybean-production areas. In this study, soybean fields in east-central Illinois were surveyed for incidence of SSR. Of 68 fields surveyed, 31 contained SSR. Of the fields with SSR, 25 had between 1 and 5% SSR incidence, while 6 fields had more than 5% SSR incidence. The pattern of the disease in one field was mapped, and the spatial distribution of SSR was aggregated with a Lloyd's index of 1.4. In addition to field incidence of SSR, seed lots suspected of being contaminated with Sclerotinia sclerotiorum sclerotia were obtained from the Illinois Crop Improvement Association. Sclerotia and seeds were separated, and seeds were germinated to determine the level of seedborne infection by S. sclerotiorum. Sclerotia were recovered from 71 of 81 seed lots. Most of the seed lots were from the north-central area of Illinois, but one seed lot was from Madison County in the southwestern area of the state, and three and six seed lots contaminated with sclerotia were from Iowa and Wisconsin, respectively. Sclerotia counts ranged from 0 to 363 per seed lot. Normal-appearing seeds from the 81 seed lots (100 to 200 seeds per lot) were tested for germination and incidence of seedborne infection by S. sclerotiorum. Eight seed lots had at least one infected seed, and the incidence of seed infection ranged from 0.07 to 0.1%. From 10 randomly selected seed lots of the 81, discolored, shriveled seeds were selected and germinated to determine the incidence of seedborne infection. Seed infection rates ranged from 0 to 70%. The occurrence of SSR throughout Illinois and the importance of seedborne infection as a source of inoculum dispersal need further documentation.