Many New Year’s resolutions for most producers and the wish of many commodity suppliers is better yields and better quality for 2010. Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University plant pathologist, offers some tips to help you achieve this goal.

1. If a variety performed poorly in 2009, let that dog go. "We are now looking at higher inoculum levels of many pathogens going into 2010," Dorrance says. "So it's time to re-evaluate some of our production systems. Rotation and Tillage are the best management strategies for knocking back pathogen inoculum be it from soybean cyst nematode, foliar diseases, Sclerotinia or Phomopsis on seed. You’ve got two choices — get out of that field or put some dirt on it. The best response for an outbreak is to do both."

2. Choose hybrids and varieties with the best disease resistance package for your farm. "Ohio often has favorable conditions for disease to develop and this is a good first step," Dorrance says. "For soybeans — pick a variety that has high levels of partial resistance to Phytophthora, plus either Rps1c, Rps1k or Rps3 or a combo; good Frogeye; and SDS ratings." Dorrance says for those historic Sclerotinia fields, it must also have a Sclerotinia rating. For soybean cyst nematode — put the Soybean cyst nematode resistant lines on those fields with 200 to 2,000 or more eggs per cup of soil, but avoid severe problem fields. "Our cysts, they are a changing… and we don’t want to push it," she says.

3. Don’t push the planting. "If it's wet or the forecast says a whopper of storm is on the way, go to the coffee shop. Do not try to get it in," Dorrance says. "We’ve been doing this a lot lately only to end up replanting the field. Also don’t 'mud it in.' More often than not, you are looking at a replant situation."

4. Use treated seed. "In soils that get wet, they may hold water for 24 to 48 hours, which is just perfect for the watermolds and other fungi that love to attack young seedlings," she says. "If your land is well drained, you are probably wondering what I am talking about, but to the guys whose dirt is one step away from quality clay for pottery, you know what I mean." She says you should be sure you’ve got the best rate for Phytophthora, something in there to cover the fungi (Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, and seedborne Phomopsis and Sclerotinia) and then follow the information for insecticides.

5. Rotate crops. "If you had a poor return on a crop in a field last year, don’t put it in again. It's time to explore some other options," Dorrance says.

6. The fall was a bit wet for SCN sampling. If we have a long dry spring and you can pull them in April, do it. "Spring counts are better than no counts at all," she says.

7. If something did not work, figure out why. "These are what we call 'teachable moments' in academia," Dorrance says. "I learn more from what did not work then what did at times." If you were applying a fungicide, did you get it on in time? Did it go where you needed it to go or did it sit on top of the canopy? Was it the right material or was it even necessary? "This is all good information to improve upon for next year," she says.

The two most important decisions you will make are matching the right variety genetics to each field, Dorrance adds.

"Take your time, look at the field histories and get it all planned out now," she says.