A bug that's been around for a long time, but usually considered a minor problem, has been a thorn in the side for many soybean growers this season.

It's the stinkbug.

“If you didn't have problems, count yourself blessed,” says James Thomas, soybean breeder for Hornbeck Seed Company, Inc. “And if you did have stinkbugs but didn't spray for them, you may be in for a surprise at harvest.”

The pest carries a virus that can delay soybean maturity and cause pods to abort, he says. “In severe cases, you may end up with junk to carry to the mill.

Waymon Hornbeck, company president, says “We've seen fields where as many as third of the pods would be blanks, and some fields that weren't worth harvesting.

“One or two good sprayings would've taken care of the problem, but with the economics of production the way they are, some farmers may have felt it wasn't worth it. But it's better to spray than to lose a good portion, or all of the crop.”

Diseases have been heavy, too, Thomas says. “What didn't we have this year? Aerial blight, stem canker, more SDS (sudden death syndrome) than we've seen in years — you name it.”

Root knot nematode is a growing problem, he notes, and there were a lot of places this year where soybean cyst nematode dealt a double whammy: “Some growers had stands wiped out early by SCN, so they replanted, and then got hit again.”