Featuring the symptoms of not one but two diseases, this poor soybean plant shows signs of pod and stem blight and stem canker. Many soybean-growing regions in the United States suffer from these diseases. They’re not the deadliest soybean diseases out there, but both of them can cause noticeable yield and quality losses.
We have fungi in the Diaporthe genus to blame for both diseases. Since they’re related, it’s fitting to have both diseases represented by one (very sick) artificial soybean.
If it develops far enough, stem canker causes leaves to die while remaining attached to the soybean plant. (Unlike some other soybean diseases like Sudden Death Syndrome, which causes leaves to fall off.) Our craftsmen faithfully reproduced this feature. They sculpted the upper leaves into shriveled husks and painted them a realistically-detailed brown.
Pod and stem blight’s most distinctive symptom is the dark spots or streaks it causes on the stem. Known as pycnidia, they’re part of the fungus’ fruiting structure. Our commitment to creating detailed artificial soybean models meant that our craftsmen applied each pycnidia spot on the stem by hand. It took a while, but that’s how you get accurate, lifelike detail.
Training Tomorrow’s Agronomists with Lifelike Plant Models
We originally crafted this replica for the University of Kentucky. They wanted an artificial soybean that clearly showed what stem canker and pod and stem blight look like. Hands-on teaching aids offer them a better way to teach people to recognize the symptoms. Like the sickly plants we’ve made for other colleges, having a lifelike artificial plant model lets instructors give students a more realistic picture of conditions they’ll encounter in the field.
And because the fungus that causes these diseases can overwinter in the soil, it’s important for soybean farmers to recognize the symptoms quickly. That way, they can make management decisions (like rotating crops) to help break the infection cycle.