Maryland, November 22, 2004 (ENS): Soybean
rust, a destructive fungus that slashes soybean yields,
has now been found in five southern states, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) laboratory in Beltsville,
Maryland confirmed on Friday.
Soybean rust has been detected in Louisiana, Alabama,
Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi, the USDA lab said.
Florida, which grows about 11,000 acres of soybeans,
is the latest state to hear a rust diagnosis. Florida
Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said the fungus
has been found in samples collected from an experimental
test plot managed by the University of Florida/Institute
of Food & Agricultural Sciences in Quincy, Florida.
Florida extension agents were prompted to look in their
soybean test plots because of notification by Louisiana
State University that Soybean rust had been found in
their extension service test plots.
Pathologists strongly suspect that Hurricane Ivan,
which hit the panhandle of Florida in mid-September
is responsible for the spread of the disease from South
Severe outbreaks in the last few years in South America
have heightened concern for the spread of the disease
to North American soybean growers.
The Soybean rust pathogen, Phakopsora pachyrhizi, which
is easily spread through windborne spores, is a fungus
that causes small lesions on the foliage and pods of
soybeans and several other legume hosts, including lima
beans. Soybean rust can reduce yields by 50 percent
Soybean rust also infects kudzu, the invasive nuisance
weed that has spread throughout Florida, and serves
as a reservoir for the soybean rust pathogen. Forage
legumes, such as yellow sweet clover, also serve as
a refuge for soybean rust in the off season.
The impact of the fungus this season is expected to
be minimal because most soybeans have been harvested.
The Florida Agriculture Department is working jointly
with the University of Florida/IFAS and the USDA to
immediately determine the extent of the disease, coordinate
diagnostic activities, and conduct training of surveyors
and growers for accurate detection of the disease.
The USDA says a coordinated approach will be required
by all soybean producing states to effectively manage