Late Wednesday the Florida Department of Agriculture confirmed soybean rust on samples taken from an experimental test plot managed by the University of Florida/Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) in Quincy, Florida.
The disease was also found and confirmed several days earlier in Louisiana and Mississippi. These southeast U.S. discoveries are the first occurrences of soybean rust in North America. Pathologists strongly suspect that Hurricane Ivan that hit the panhandle of Florida in mid September is responsible for the spread of the disease from South America.
UF/IFAS extension agents were prompted to look in their soybean test plots because of notification by Louisiana State University that soybean rust had been found in their extension service test plots.
It is very likely soybean rust will get into the Kudzu foliage and produce lots of spore producing lesions. The infection then will have to spread to Kudzu in areas warm enough in the winter to keep the leaves green and lesions alive, now inevitable with findings in Florida. Those areas may be around New Orleans, the Texas gulf coastal area, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and through the Carolinas.
The latest survey showed there are 7 millionacres of Kudzu. Surveys this winter will determine in which of those locations the plants will retain green leaves. Next spring the spores will begin a northerly trek on winds from the south, infesting susceptible hosts along the way. If the spores have to blow in from Texas we may see the spores infecting the clovers in Oklahoma by late March, then in Missouri by mid April and then soybeans in Iowa by early June, according to an Iowa State University crop specialist and agronomist.