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Were last year's soybean rust warnings warranted?

by 5m Editor
9 January 2006, at 12:00am

ILLNOIS - Government and industry spent millions of dollars last winter to prepare farmers for the scourge of soybean rust, a yield-robbing fungus that could cost them thousands of extra dollars to control. Yet, while the disease was found in the southern states for the second straight year, it never reached the major soybean-growing states in the Midwest. Were all the Web sites and brochures and seminars a waste of time and money? Soybean experts say the answer is definitely &quot;No,&quot; and farmers should be wary again this summer. &quot;Just because we didn&#39;t have soybean rust all the way up into the central part of the United States doesn&#39;t mean that it won&#39;t eventually get here,&quot; Suzanne Bissonnette, a soybean rust expert with University of Illinois Extension, told farmers and chemical applicators gathered for the university&#39;s annual Crop Technology Conference Jan. 5. &quot;We&#39;re in the early stages and I urge you to continue to pay attention to rust.&quot; Asian soybean rust disease, or Phakospora pachyrhizi, has been spreading around the world for decades. But it didn&#39;t reach the continental United States until late 2004. The disease is caused by spores that grow after they land on soybean leaves or other host plants, such as kudzu, a leafy vine that is prevalent in the South. Unless plants are sprayed with fungicide soon after infection, the disease will take over quickly and cause leaves to drop off, which leads to fewer bean pods and fewer beans per pod. The fungicides that can control rust could cost farmers $20-$35 per acre. But what happened in a single research field in Alabama, where rust was found in 33 counties last summer, shows what can happen if they aren&#39;t used. The field, which was intentionally left untreated, was fully infected within two weeks of detection and was completely defoliated within seven weeks, said Edward J. Sikora, a plant scientist from Auburn University. <i>Source: AgriNews</i>

5m Editor