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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Potassium Fertilization Effects on Phomopsis Seed Infection, Seed Quality, and Yield of Soybeans1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 74 No. 5, p. 886-890
    Received: Apr 11, 1980

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  1. D. L. Jeffers,
  2. A. F. Schmitthenner and
  3. M. E. Kroetz2



Soybeans [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] are often damaged by the seedborne fungi Phomopsis sp. and Diaporthe phaseolorum (Cke. and Ell.) Sacc. in regions where the climate is warm and humid during and after maturation. Incidence of these fungi is sometimes decreased by soil application of K fertilizer to improve crop growth. This study was designed to determine if high levels of soil available K, or K fertilizer applications beyond that necessary to maximize yield, would have a significant effect on seed-borne fungi and seed quality.

Soybeans were grown on Granby loamy fine sand (sandy, mixed, mesic Typic Haplaquoll), on Canfield silt loam (fine-loamy, mixed, mesic Aquic Fragiudalf), and on Crosby silt loam (fine, mixed, mesic Aerie Ochraqualf). Potassium fertilizer was applied at various rates to establish a range of available K in soil. Potassium concentration of leaves closely paralleled K fertilizer treatments and the soil K levels. Seed was harvested from mature plants, and seed-borne fungi were identified on samples cultured on potato-dextrose agar. Phomopsis sp. was the most common fungus isolated from soybeans, ranging up to a 63% incidence. Diaporthe phaseolorum occurred with much less frequency, rarely exceeding a 10% incidence.

Potassium fertilization nearly always decreased moldy seed, but increased seed germination and yield somewhat less frequently. Where germination was increased by K fertilization, the incidence of Phomopsis sp. and D. phaseolorum nearly always remained unchanged. Thus, K fertilization usually does not influence Phomopsis sp. and D. phaseolorum infection of seed, but possibly limits fungal growth after infection has occurred. Fertilizer rates in excess of that necessary to maximize yield had little influence on germination or moldy seed.

Occurrence of Phomopsis sp. was greater in seeds from lower nodes than from upper nodes; whereas, the reverse was true of D. phaseolorum. Even though K deficiency symptoms occurred only on upper fruits and leaves, K fertilization decreased Phomopsis sp. 23 percentage points in lower seeds in contrast to 14 percentage points in upper seeds. Infection of seed by Phomopsis sp. within a plant does not appear to be related to K deficiency symptoms.

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