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Budworms suspected in green bean syndrome
Author: Mary Hightower, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture

Story by Howell Medders
Agricultural Communication Services

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Green bean syndrome — in which soybean plant maturity is significantly delayed and uneven — is not caused by a disease pathogen, according to exhaustive research by University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture plant pathologists and colleagues in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Green bean syndrome (GBS) occurrences range from a few spots or strips as small as 100 square feet or, rarely, an entire field. The main GBS symptom is uneven maturity of pods on individual plants. Half of the pods on a plant may be ready for harvest and the rest are still green.

Cooperative Extension Service entomologist Gus Lorenz said extremely high populations of soybean budworms, also called corn earworms, very likely caused the significant GBS seen the last two years. His diagnosis is based on research in Arkansas and elsewhere and field observations.

Arkansas plant pathologists Yanis Tzanetakis and John Rupe say Lorenz’s observation is consistent with their findings, which suggest that high levels of seed abortions and depodding, which may have occurred from heavy budworm feeding, cause physiological changes in plants that result in delayed and uneven maturity of pods.

Additional experiments by the plant pathologists, including a “deep sequencing” analysis, ruled out the possible suspects of phytoplasma, viruses and other pathogens as significant GBS causal agents.

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