October 27, 2005


Brazil finds first case of Asian rust in 2005-06 soy crop


A commercial soy farm in Primavera do Leste in Mato Grosso has registered Brazil's first case of Asian soybean rust for the 2005-06 harvest, researchers confirmed Wednesday.


Researchers from Brazil's Anti-Rust Consortium and Embrapa Soja, a government research institute in Parana, confirmed the soybean rust discovery, which was initially made Oct 18 by agronomists from soy market research firm Ceres.


"It's a scenario a lot like last year. Just as we are starting to plant, the disease is being spotted in different parts of the state," said Claudia Godoy, a researcher at Embrapa.


Asian soybean rust was also found along roadsides in Parana on soy plants that had grown from seeds that fell off delivery trucks.


Embrapa also confirmed Wednesday the discovery of rust on a Brazilian winter harvest in Goiania, planted in May and June and being collected now in the winter 2005 harvest. The discovery increases the risk of soybean rust for new plantings in Goiania for the 2005-06 harvest.


Because rust is a fungus and its spores are wind-borne, weather patterns can dictate where and when the disease will be discovered next. It's possible the next sighting could be a great distance from Mato Grosso, Brazil's top soy producing state.


The discovery of soybean rust worries agronomists because the plants are still in their infancy, which means farmers will likely have to apply more anti-rust fungicides than originally anticipated.


"Finding rust this early in the season is very serious," said Godoy. "You have new leaves popping out on the plant all the time and right now they are unprotected by fungicides. Farmers are going to have to let less time pass between applications."


Agricultural research firm, AgRural, forecast a soybean harvest for the 2005-06 crop to fall somewhere between 51-57 million tonnes. That could change if the rust problem is exacerbated.


Brazil's 2004-05 harvest was 51 million tonnes, 10 million tonnes short of market estimates, mostly because of dry weather in Parana and Rio Grande do Sul.


The Association of Soy Producers of Mato Gross said the arrival of rust this early in the season is troubling.


"It adds to a series of already negative factors," said Luiz Nery Ribas, a director at the producers association.


"Producers are already under-capitalised and could end up without the funds to effectively control the disease," Ribas said. "This is a harvest where farmers are using less technology, investing less in fertiliser and fungicides. If the weather continues to be favourable, we'll have to spray for rust five times at least, when I think the truth is that they are prepared to apply twice on average."


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