February 2, 2004



Argentina Says No Asian Rust Threat To Soy Crops


Argentina's Agriculture Secretariat on Friday said that there was no danger of its soy crop being affected by Asian rust, despite the fungal disease appearing at three soybean farms.


"There are very few plants affected by this," said the Secretariat's Press Secretary Laura Panappiere. "This is not going to affect the 2003-04 campaign. What's more, there are even fewer cases of rust now than there were last year and there were no problems then."


The Secretariat has confirmed the appearance of the disease at two commercial farms and one experimental farm in the northern province of Misiones.


"We launched a national anti-rust program last year to combat this disease," Panappiere said. "We are monitoring the situation and there is no reason to be alarmist about this. We have put out an alert to farmers to keep their eyes open for this, but this is only an alert."


Pablo Adreani, a soybean specialist with AgriPAC consultants, said it was important not to exaggerate the significance of Asian rust in Argentina.


"Last year they detected Asian rust in the same area and it wasn't a problem," Adreani said. "Geographically speaking, the province of Misiones is practically in southern Brazil, so I imagine that the soybeans in Misiones were infected via Brazil. But Misiones is far from the main soybean belt in Argentina and there is no reason to worry that this will cause problems for the rest of the crop."


Asian rust is a potentially devastating fungal disease that can spread easily through the air.


The disease caused major problems in Brazil last year, leading farmers to lose around 3 million metric tons of soy because of rust, which destroys leaves and crimps the plant's capacity to carry soybeans pods.


Reports of the disease have proliferated across Brazil's soybean belt recently, according to Brazil's Agriculture Ministry.


If detected early, the disease can be successfully treated with the proper application of fungicides, analysts say.

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