Risk list for soybeans

Soybean growers feel upbeat going into the 2012 crop year, but they have some new potential challenges on the horizon this year, too.

“By and large I think growers are pretty confident they’ll have very good prices,” says North Carolina State University Extension soybean specialist Jim Dunphy. “At the same time, they are uncertain about what price they should sell. … It’s like the stock market — you never know.”

Dunphy and NCSU soybean pathology specialist Steve Koenning distribute the email periodical Soybean Rust Update to trace progress of the disease across the United States, and particularly in North Carolina. Their latest update classifies rust as “no risk” for North Carolina at present. Conditions can change with the weather, however.

“Our growers are far enough north they haven’t had much of an economic problem with rust in recent years,” Dunphy says. “More rust did overwinter on kudzu this year on the Gulf Coast. It is a question of whether we get the wind currents to bring them on up to North Carolina, or don’t.”

Key Points

Prices are good on soybeans, but growers have challenges.

The kudzu bug is a new threat that’s spreading fast.

Brown marmorated stinkbug may move south from Virginia into North Carolina.


The kudzu bug is another concern for soybean producers: a fast-moving one. Dunphy notes this wasn’t pest in the continental United States at all until two years ago. Two years later, the pest has been found in every county in South Carolina, three-quarters of Georgia, a bit of Alabama, 40-plus counties in North Carolina, and in one county in Virginia. The experts anticipate it will be found in every North Carolina county before the year is out.

“It obviously has the capacity to spread very fast and very far,” Dunphy says. “How much damage it will actually do to soybeans is still uncertain. We know it can get very serious. There have been cases in Georgia where damage has been as high as 80% yield loss. However, the average loss would be more in the range of 35% to 40%.

“So exactly what we will get and how soon we will get it is a guessing game at this stage,” he adds, “but the kudzu bug is certainly an insect pest that we are going to have to be aware of and prepared to treat. We do have chemicals that can control them, so if we do get them, we have some control measures we can use.”

Don’t be too quick to act, though

Experts say when it comes to the kudzu bug, however, many growers may pull the control trigger too quickly, and thereby destroy beneficial insects or kill the pest before it does economic damage. If you get them or if you find they are close to your area, check with your local Extension office for the latest recommendations.

While the kudzu bug is working its way north toward Virginia, the brown marmorated stinkbug has been working its way to the South. Dunphy notes Virginia already has them as a very serious problem.

“We have just a scattering of them in North Carolina, but if they continue to move south as a serious problem, then we are probably next in line to get that one, too.”

Fortunately, that pest is not as fast-moving as the kudzu bug. “So we have some salvation there,” Dunphy says.

This article published in the June, 2012 edition of CAROLINA-VIRGINIA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.