There is evidence of the beginnings of a soybean crop infection in some parts of west-central Illinois.
The soil-based fusarium organism causes the sudden death syndrome. Experts say the organism keeps the plant from sending water and nutrients to the leaves. The leaves start dying and turn yellow and brown.
It could potentially affect crop yields in a year that the U.S. Department of Agriculture says will be a record soybean harvest across the country, with an estimated yield of 45.4 billion bushels.
University of Illinois Extension educator Mike Roegge said some fields started showing signs two weeks ago and affected areas rapidly expanded. That's, "not a good sign," he told The Quincy Herald-Whig.
"Some years you see initial infection, then it stalls out and doesn't progress any further along the plant," Roegge said. "When that happens, you don't see a lot of yield loss. Other years it continues to progress, kills the plant prematurely and expands in the field to take a larger portion."
The newspaper reports that not every field is affected but the ones that are could see losses of 10 to 20 percent.
Roberta Simpson Dolbeare farms near Pleasant Hill in Pike County and is on the Illinois Soybean Association Board.
"The crops aren't going to be what we thought they might be," Dolbeare said. "Beans are still growing, still producing at this stage. We're going to see some reduction in yield, but how much, I'm not real sure."
Farmers have few options once the disease hits a field, Roegge said.
"There's no resistant varieties, no products that can be used to alleviate the situation," he said.