With Ohio growers projected to increase their soybean acreage this growing season – 50,000 more acres than last year – some planting cautions are in order, says an Ohio State University Extension plant pathologist.

"Are you going back into the same fields that had soybeans last year? If so, what were some of the problems?" asks Anne Dorrance, who also holds an appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "Don't plant back in a field that had sclerotinia or high soybean cyst nematode populations. Those fields should be rotated out."

Dorrance also recommended that growers avoid planting the same soybean variety in the same field. "We are finding that producers might not see a problem the first year, but the next year it really comes back to get you," she says.

The biggest caution growers should be taking this growing season is planting soybeans into no-till corn residue, considering the significant ear rot problems many experienced across the state last year.

"This is the same disease that causes head scab. This is the same disease that we've now shown, when inoculum is really high, can affect soybean seedlings," says Dorrance. "We have high inoculum density right now and we have to get it knocked down or this problem is going to continue to expand."

Dorrance recommends that growers either apply a seed treatment or perform some management practices to degrade the inoculum levels, such as chopping up corn residue or covering it over with soil.

"Getting those inoculum levels down is really important for the long-term health of soybean seedlings and this year's corn crop and wheat crop. We don’t need a head scab epidemic," says Dorrance.

Aside from those planting recommendations, basic soybean management guidelines still remain: plant a variety that will produce the best yield and has the best resistance package for the problems in your field, check fertility, know what the soybean cyst nematode populations levels are and maintain weed control.

"It'll be another challenging year for soybean growers, but if they put in the extra time and homework up front, hopefully it will pay in the back end," says Dorrance.