Sometimes Extension is accused of being "a best kept secret" or of keeping secrets itself, and not getting information out as quickly as it possibly could. Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to soybean rust. Extension specialists and local educators all over the country have made Asian soybean rust public enemy number one. That was certainly true last year and the attention to this unseen, unwelcome potential guest remains strong this year. Purdue University is certainly doing its part to hang a "no vacancy" sign out for rust, and of keeping farmers informed if and when rust comes looking for a "room" for the night.
Plant pathologist Grg Shaner helps head up the observation and communication team that would identify rust, then get the word out, should it make it into Indiana and set up shop here. He has volunteers, some farmers, lined up across the state. Even now, they are collecting soybean leaves weekly and mailing them to Purdue for analysis, just to make sure Indiana's soybean crop remains rust free.
How can you stay abreast of whether rust is approaching, and is a concern you should add to your list of summer growing season worries or not? Here are Shaner's best suggestions.
Rust hotline - Call (866) 459-RUST (or 866-458-7878) at any time. Shaner updates recorded messages weekly, and more often if necessary.
Purdue rust site - Purdue has its own Soybean rust Web site worth monitoring through the season: www.agriculture.purdue.edu/soybeanrust/
Plant pest and diagnostic lab - Learn about sending suspect leaf samples and a whole lot more at: www.ppdl.purdue.edu/ppdl/soybean_rust.html.
Extension publication - If you want to bone up on the facts about soybean rust, you can pull down an excellent Extension publication on soybean rust online. It's called 'Preparing for Asian Soybean Rust.' Find it at: www.cs.purdue.edu/extmedia/ID/ID/-324.pdf
USDA site - You may want to monitor the overall picture of soybean rust and its progress, or lack thereof, by going directly to USDA's soybean rust Website. Find it at: sbrusa.net.
If infection is confirmed anywhere it will be listed on the USDA site. For soybean rust, it's not "you can run but you can't hide," it's "we don't even want to let you run." All the resources being devoted toward rust monitoring and information delivery to farmers bodes well should rust even attempt to set up shop in the Corn Belt.