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January 19, 2011

Scientists Monitoring "Mad Soybean 2" Fields Looking for Cause

Brazilian scientists continue to investigate what could be the cause of a new anomaly affecting soybeans in Brazil called "mad or crazy soybeans 2." The anomaly causes a high level of flower and pod abortion as well as deformed pods. The deformed pods stay green and they do not mature making harvesting more difficult. In highly infested areas, yield losses can be significant. Symptoms of the anomaly have been identified in soybean fields in northern Mato Grosso and researchers are tracking the progress of the disease in those fields in an attempt to identify the cause.

Several theories as to the cause of the anomaly have been put fourth including: insect attack, a new fungal or viral disease, stress caused by abnormal weather, interaction with noxious weeds, cultural practices, chemical interaction, or some other unknown cause.

The affected fields are under constant observation by scientists from the Fundacao Mato Grosso, which is a research organization that conducts soybean research all across the state of Mato Grosso. Scientists found three types of spiders in the residue of the affected fields and they thought they may have been feeding on the soybeans, but laboratory studies revealed that was not the case. Thus far, scientists have not found anything in common in all the affected fields. Affected plants have been found in low waterlogged areas as well as high on hillsides. Conventional as well as GM soybeans seem to be affected by the anomaly. Affected plants can be found in fields that have had different chemical applications and have undergone different regimes of crop residue management as well as other cultural practices.

So far, the cause remains unknown and without knowing the cause, scientists are unable to make any recommendations as to how to avoid the problem. Researchers hope to have some idea as to the cause of the problem by the end of the growing season, but there is no certainty the cause will be found that quickly.