The first reaction for any farmer is to panic now that soybean rust has been found on U.S. soil. However, the American Soybean Association (ASA) recommends against rushing out and buying fungicides until more is known.
David Wright, Iowa Soybean Association technical staff, says fungicides can be applied as a preventative measure, or after the disease is found. Models should be available by the planting season that will give a better handle on what areas that are most likely to be hit the hardest.
Neal Bredehoeft, ASA president, says the industry is "fairly confident that by the next planting season there will be an adequate amount of fungicide on hand" to meet the needs of growers.
How fast will it spread?
With the proper wind currents, soybean rust spores can travel 300 miles per day, Bredehoeft says. Wright adds that the entire soybean production is at risk from the disease, but overwintering will prevent most from spreading extensively.
Wright says the climate patterns throughout the southeast states up through the Mississippi Valley into Ohio will more readily propagate the conditions for spreading, at least more frequently than folks in western Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas.
One widespread soybean rust host in the United States is kudzu, a ditch weed. It is highly likely that kudzu could serve as an inoculum reservoir for soybean rust, similar to what has been occurring in Brazil.
Alan Blaine, Mississippi State University soybean specialist, is already sending a crew out to travel down toward the Gulf Coast along the Mississippi/Alabama state line to sample kudzu since APHIS is reporting the spores were carried to the U.S. via the active hurricane season.
"This will be our third trip since Hurricane Ivan. That's the path Ivan took. It came up that Mississippi/Alabama. [Ivan} didn't go through Louisiana, so we are checking kudzu there." Blaine explains that this may be the last shot to check the kudzu before getting a killing frost.