2005, Anne Fitzgerald DesMoines Register via CropChoice.com:
As spring planting approaches, U.S. farmers, agronomists,
seed companies and chemical suppliers are bracing for
combat against Asian rust.
A fungus found last fall for the first time in the
United States, the disease can decimate soybeans, one
of Iowa's two top crops and a commodity used widely
in food, livestock feed and industrial products. No
one knows whether the wind-borne disease will spread
into the Upper Midwest this year, but there are growing
fears that that could happen.
Iowa State University Extension researchers and private-sector
specialists want to be ready.
Earlier this month, a delegation of Iowa State University
Extension crop specialists visited Brazil, where soybean
rust has caused widespread damage since first appearing
there in 2001.
This week, a group of scientists from Pioneer Hi-Bred
International Inc. will be in Brazil to learn more about
The Iowa State group, which returned from Brazil on
Feb. 20, saw the disease's impact at various stages
of development, including fields destroyed by the disease.
"It's the worst I have ever seen it," said
Palle Pedersen , soybean agronomist with ISU Extension
in Ames and coordinator of the trip. "It was really
bad. . . . Farmers have been spraying two, three, four
So far, the only known treatment to prevent crop loss
is to spray soybean plants with a fungicide.
Crop specialists are warning Iowa farmers that they
will have to monitor their crops closely to detect the
disease early in its development.
"Timing on spraying is the key," Pedersen
Even then, yield losses may occur, and costs will mount
quickly, especially if multiple spraying applications
are needed, experts said.
The ISU Extension field crop specialists visited areas
where two to three applications of chemicals to combat
the fungus had been done. Each trip across a field costs
Brazilians from $10 to $12 per acre for the chemical
"There's widespread concern today in Brazil about
soybean profit margins," said Robert Wisner , an
ISU Extension economist who was part of the Iowa State
study group. The cost of combating Asian rust is a key
contributor to that concern, he and others said. In
Iowa, pressure is building to be ready in case the disease