New tool provides producers with impacts of diseases

soybean cyst nematode
Soybean cyst nematode — photo courtesy University of Kentucky
Kentucky grain producers have a new, free tool at their disposal to see the past yield losses and economic impacts of common diseases affecting corn and soybeans. This tool can help them plan their disease management strategy for the upcoming growing season.

Developed by the Crop Protection Network, the Field Crop Disease Loss Calculator can tell producers how much in losses a particular disease cost farmers in their state in any given year.

Each year, Extension plant pathologists and researchers at land-grant universities and members of several corn and soybean disease working groups review and revise disease loss estimates. They review data from producer and university surveys, U.S. Department of Agriculture reports, personal observations and other metrics.

Then they calculate loss estimates based on the expected production prior to the loss. Average losses are determined by dividing statewide economic losses by acres planted. The corn calculator includes disease information for 2012 through 2016, and the soybean disease data covers 1996 through 2017. More recent data are currently being added to the calculator.

“We can use this historical data to estimate the impacts of diseases on our crops,” said Kiersten Wise, the network’s co-director and Extension plant pathologist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “This tool not only gives us the average bushels lost in the state and the resulting economic impacts of a particular disease, but can help us see which diseases are becoming more or less problematic over time. Knowing this information can help us prioritize research needs and ultimately help farmers manage diseases to prevent economic loss.”

For example, the tool shows that damage from the soybean cyst nematode annually costs Kentucky producers about $9.58 per acre, with average losses ranging from $3.99 per acre in 2010 to as high as $20.69 per acre in 2013.

In corn, southern rust is an annual threat but only periodically causes significant economic damage. For example, in 2016, Kentucky producers lost $23.83 per acre on average due to the disease, but in the three years prior, producers only lost, on average, $1 to $5 per acre due to the same disease.

Kentucky producers can also see the impacts of diseases in other states, regions and Ontario, Canada.

The calculator is available at Plant pathologists will update it each year as they calculate disease loss estimates.

The Crop Protection Network is a multistate and international partnership of university and provincial Extension specialists and public and private professionals that provides unbiased, research-based information.

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