November 23, 2004

 

 

Discovery of Asian Rust Confirmed in US Arkansas Soybeans

 

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, the Arkansas State Plant Board, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the US Department of Agriculture Monday confirmed the discovery of Asian soybean rust in a soybean sample collected Nov. 18 in northeast Arkansas near the Mississippi River.

 

Discovery of the yield-robbing plant disease follows earlier confirmation of the fungus in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia and Alabama since Nov. 10.

 

Introduction of the disease is believed to be related to the path of Hurricane Ivan in September, which moved airborne spores of the soybean rust fungus from infected fields in South America to the southern US.

 

While it is not known whether the fungus can overwinter in the US, Arkansas and other states have prepared response plans for the disease in 2005.

 

Ongoing preparations include the approval of new fungicides to control the disease, winter training of field scouts for 2005, a crop monitoring program and detection network, and various information pieces on the disease for distribution this winter.

 

While growers have cause to be concerned, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture said panic is not warranted.

 

"Historically, control measures, such as fungicides, have protected soybean production in countries where this disease is a persistent problem," said Dr. Chris Tingle, extension soybean agronomist with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, said in a press release Monday. "While it is unclear to the future problems this disease may cause, Arkansas producers can rest assured they will have every tool available to combat this problem."

 

The disease can reportedly cut soybean yields by as much as 80% if left unchecked.

 

"We have more information and preparation for soybean rust than any plant disease in my memory. It can be managed successfully as evidenced by successful control in Brazil and other countries the past few years, and we will be able to manage it, too," said Dr. Rick Cartwright, extension plant pathologist with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and co- chairman of the Arkansas Working Group on Introduced Plant Diseases. "I would advise growers to stay in contact with their county extension agents and attend all production meetings this winter for the latest information," he said in the release.

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