Asian rust found in Miss. soybeans

Published 7:05 pm Thursday, August 16, 2007

Asian soybean rust, a fungus that can wipe out a field of soybeans if uncontrolled, has been found in fields in Mississippi.

Lee Taylor, a retired employee of the Mississippi State Extension Service, found the first signs of the rust on Aug. 10 in Pearl River County, which borders Louisiana in the state’s southwestern corner.

Two days later, Tom Allen, a plant pathologist, found the disease on soybeans in a sentinel plot in Stoneville in Washington County in the Mississippi Delta.

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The northwest region of Mississippi produces more than 80 percent of the states soybean crop.

The fungus also has been confirmed in commercial fields in Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.

Allen discovered the rust during a routine check of soybean sentinel plots. MSU’s Extension Service uses sentinel plots each year to monitor the appearance of soybean rust throughout the state.

“I noticed the characteristic raised lesions on the undersides of the leaves,” Allen said. “After performing a stick test, I received a positive response.”

Extension personnel continue to scout sentinel plots and commercial fields in Mississippi for signs of rust. They have not found additional occurrences.

This year, farm experts first found rust in Mississippi on July 12 in Wilkinson County.

Experts said more than 50 percent of Mississippi’s soybeans are past the most susceptible stage for soybean rust devastation and that hot daytime temperatures and dry conditions projected during the next week will slow the disease’s progression.