Two years ago the alarm bells sounded all over the country, especially in the southern U.S. and the Midwest. Asian soybean rust was found alive and well on American soil! Its notorious reputation preceded it, especially from South America. To say there was panic in the countryside might be a slight overstatement, but to say that it was hyped for six months would certainly be accurate.
No rust came, not even at the end of the season. Then came 2006- still no rust, until October. Finally, spores were confirmed in Kentucky, southern Illinois and even as far north as Tippecanoe County, Indiana. But it was October, and the season was over. In fact many soybeans were already in the bin or at the elevator by the time the spores were discovered and confirmed as Asian soybean rust.
Greg Shaner, a Purdue University plant pathologist, says that the spores likely blew up on wind currents during storm activity in September. Modeling of storm patterns and actual rust spore discoveries across the southern and central U.S. revealed a striking pattern. The spores that wound up in Indiana appeared to ride up on currents from the Gulf Coast. Indiana does not appear to be at risk, or at least not at as much risk, from rust in the southeast, such as in Alabama. Weather patterns tend to carry spores form rust surviving in those regions during the growing season up the eastern coast, or at least to the east of Indiana.
That's good news, since specialists at last report noted rust was still surviving on kudzu in Alabama. The rust needs a living host with green leaves during the winter months to continue its winter cycle. Even kudzu does not stay green and active at very low temperatures.
What the discovery of spores in Indiana and other Midwest states late last fall did was confirm that spores could travel into the central Corn Belt. If they reached those areas sooner in the season, then risk of infection and the need for spraying, ballyhooed two years ago, might finally become unfortunate reality.
To help producers get a handle on the real risks, and not get too hyped up nor too complacent, the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Purdue Extension announce three regional meetings on soybean rust. The meetings will feature the latest information on tracking rust, a look at the latest soybean rust control measures recommended by experts, plus a look at crop insurance options that could protect you against soybean rust losses, should the disease get a good foothold here this season.
As a bonus, the meeting will also include a rundown on the soybean aphid outlook for '07. So far this relatively new insect pest has proved to be a wiry competitor, but only every other year. For most of Indiana 2007 would be the year when soybean aphids could be expected to be plentiful and threaten economic loss if not controlled.
Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. EST at all three locations. The program runs form 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a working lunch provided. PARP and CEU credit is available. There will be a $10 fee, payable at the meeting, to obtain PARP credit. There is no cost for farmers ot attend, but pre-registration by Feb. 2 is required.
Regional meetings are: Tuesday, Feb. 6, Blue Gate Restaurant, Shipshewana; Wednesday, Feb. 21, The Beef House, Covington; Thursday, Feb. 22, The Pines Restaurant, Seymour.
For information or to register, call (800) 735-0195, or register online at: www.indianasoybean.com.