- Soybean

Soybean Soybean

Alternaria Leaf Spot of Soybean


Alternaria spp.

In a Nutshell

  • Damping-off of newly-emerged seedling growing from infected seeds.
  • Circular brown to gray spots with concentric rings on the foliage.
  • The center of the spots may dry and fall out, giving a "shot-hole" effect and premature defoliation.
  • Seeds become small and shriveled, with dark irregular and sunken areas on the surface.
 - Soybean

Soybean Soybean


The symptoms vary slightly depending on the variety of plant concerned. In seedling growing from infected seeds, the pathogens usually cause damping-off of the newly emerged plants. In older plants, dark-brown, circular spots with a concentric growth and well-defined borders develop first on older leaves. Over time, the center of these target-like spots become thin and papery, eventually dropping out to give a "shot-hole" aspect to the leaf. As the lesions expand and coalesce, leaves can be engulfed by dead tissues, leading to premature defoliation. Spots can also appear on mature pods, which show shriveled, smaller and discolored seeds with signs of decay. However, because the disease usually occur during the maturity of the plant, it causes minimal yield loss and requires no management recommendations.

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In soybean, Alternaria leaf spot is caused by several fungi belonging to the genus Alternaria spp. These pathogens can break in the pod walls, infecting seeds and making them the main transmission route of the disease between seasons. The fungus can also overwinter on susceptible weeds or non-decomposed crop debris. The secondary spread between plants is mainly airborne and is facilitated by warm, humid weather with predominant winds and rain splashes. Provided leaf wetness is optimal, the fungus germinates within hours and enter the tissues through natural pores or through insect wounds. Optimal temperatures for the development of the disease are around 20-27°C. Plants are most susceptible at the seedling stage and late in the season when leaves are mature. The incidence may be important on soybean crops irrigated during the post-rainy season, and favored by added physiological or nutritional stress for the plant.

Organic Control

No biological products are available against Alternaria leaf spot in soybean. Organic treatments include the use of fungicides based on copper (usually around 2.5 g/l).

Chemical Control

Always consider an integrated disease management with preventive measures and biological treatments if available. This disease does not require specific management if it appears late in the season. Consider a fungicide application if infections occur early in the season and with favorable conditions for the growth of the fungus. In that case, products based on mancozeb, azoxystrobin or pyraclostrobin may be applied at the first sign of the symptoms. Do not delay treatment until a large outbreak is identified as it may be too late for successful control. Seeds treated with these fungicides are also effective to prevent the incidence of the disease.

Preventive Measures

  • Use high quality, healthy seeds, from certified sources if possible.
  • Check if there are resistant varieties in your area.
  • Leave sufficient space between plants when planting to allow for a good ventilation.
  • Monitor fields regularly for signs of the disease, mostly when conditions are favorable for the disease.
  • Remove and collect infected plants, as well as neighboring surrounding plants.
  • Remove weeds in and around the field.
  • Avoid working in the field when foliage is wet.
  • Destroy crop residues from the field after harvest.
  • Plan a crop rotation with non-susceptible crops for a minimum of three years.

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