Spending a reasonable amount of time preparing yourself for the possible
threat of Asian soybean rust is not only acceptable, it's prudent. But if you become so engrossed in the 'rust watch' and preparations for it that rust controls your every move, like a tail wags a dog, then it's time to step back and evaluate risks and rewards.
If you're having trouble thinking that too much time spent on soybean rust research for information could be a bad thing, try this comparison. The Indianapolis Colts are one of the premier football teams in the NFL, with Peyton Manning, no doubt soon to become one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the pro game. Yet for two straight years, they've failed to take out one team- the New England Patriots. Nearly half of their losses over the last three years are to the Patriots.
So what, you say? Where's the connection? It's right here- some 'wanna-be' coaches are saying it's time to shake up the team, bring in new talent, throw out the playbook and put in a new one. They want to do this, even though the Colts have one of the best record and team in the league, just because they want to beat one team- New England.
Throw out successful programs because one tough enemy comes along â€“sound familiar? How about a different approachâ€”keep doing what works, improve on it, stay abreast of that enemy, but don't buckle to it. Conquer it using the same methods that help you conquer everything else- smart decisions based on fact, coupled with hard work and timely execution of your plans in the field.
Here are some 'enemies' you don't want to overlook, just because a new one might be headed your way.
- Soybean cyst nematode- It's almost a lock that nematodes will affect as many or more fields in the central and northern Corn Belt this year as rust! Are you planting resistant varieties or following a plan for cyst management? Have you considered CystX-type resistant varieties? Have you tested each field going to soybeans for cyst nematodes. Soybean organizations in some states pay for these tests for free if you collect them and send them in for analysis.
- Sudden death syndrome- SDS hits fields hard somewhere almost every year. In 2004, many fields were set up for damage, but SDS came in late and damage was lighter than expected. But this threat is always present, because inoculum is always here- it doesn't have to blow in from somewhere else.Do you consider SDS when you select varieties? Do you scout for signs of it each summer? Do you take other steps to reduce stress on plants so SDS might be less successful in establishing itself?
- Phytophthora root rot- Hardly anyone talks about this disease anymore, yet it's out there stealing bushels, especially in wet fields or areas of fields in wet springs. Do your varieties carry the latest resistance? Do you consider seed treatments that might help slow down this disease in suspect fields? Do you install tile drainage where practical as funds allow so that soils drain better?
- White mold- Sclerotinia was once a novelty. Now it's a threat in years when conditions favor the disease in mid-to-late season, especially in north-central and northern parts of the Corn Belt. Do you scout for this disease? Have you considered adjusting cultural practices if it's a perennial threat in your area? This may include switching from drilled rows back to 15-inch rows.
- Soybean aphids- Some suspect they will be back this year, yet how many are talking about aphids in hushed tones, wringing their hands? Do you understand the life cycle of aphids? Have you studied revised treatment recommendations from universities should aphids return? Do you have pesticides and spray equipment lined up if you need to spray in a hurry?
- Bean leaf beetles- Some say this insect doesn't do that much damage, yet new work from Stewart Seeds, Greensburg, Ind., theorizes that a new seed treatment they're offering works because it controls early-season bean beetles not thought to be important. When they're talking yield bumps of well over 5 bushels per acre in some field, it's worth taking them seriously. In other areas, folks are considering purchasing seed treated with Cruiser from Syngenta, an insecticide just approved for soybeans. Syngenta markets the insecticide along with other disease-fighting agents as a package treatment.
Bottom line- pay attention to rust. It's a serious threat if and when it arrives in your area. But don't lose the 'ball' in the lights. Profit from growing soybeans in '05 and beyond will still depend on a heap of factors. Soybean rust is now just one added to the rest.