Soybean rust, the dreaded yield robber that's sapping returns in South America is on the move. The American Soybean Association announced Friday it had gotten word from USDA that the disease was north of Cali, Colombia - which puts the disease north of the equator.
"Confirmation of soybean rust above the 4equator signals the advancement of spores in the direction of the continental United States," says ASA Chairman Ron Heck, a Perry, Iowa, soybean producer.
Heck points out that if the disease gets established in Colombia, it would be easier for spores to travel across the Caribbean or on the Central American land bridge. Asian soybean rust has been present throughout Asia and Australia for decades. It first moved to Uganda in 1996 and in 2001 was found in South America.
Most experts say the arrival of the disease in North America is more a matter of "when" rather than "if." Based on weather models and past experience with other diseases, ASA notes that experts predict a natural introduction of the spores will most likely enter the United States through states along the Gulf of Mexico.
Heck adds: "The discovery of soybean rust north of the equator underscores the need for USDA to continue development of a national strategy for controlling and mitigating the potential for Asian soybean rust infestation in the continental United States." ASA has been working closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to obtain approval of fungicide products to control the disease. Fungicide treatments are currently the only option for containing rust by lessening the spread of spores. Soybean seed companies are hard at work to find resistant varieties as well.
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