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Asian soybean rust concerns kick up down South

Agriculture.com Staff 06/06/2007 @ 9:34am

A new discovery of Asian soybean rust in a kudzu patch in Louisiana and favorable weather conditions for the disease's development in Florida have officials watching for more cases in the southeastern U.S.

In Wednesday's soybean rust commentary on the USDA national rust monitoring Web site, officials report a new rust discovery on Tuesday in a patch of kudzu yards from a soybean field in St. Mary's Parish, in south-central Louisiana. This is the second parish in the state where soybean rust has been discovered this year, the first coming in early May in Iberia Parish. Rust was also confirmed in Liberty County, Texas late last week.

"The incidence and severity of the disease at the initial site in Iberia Parish has increased significantly since it was first found on May 8," according to Wednesday's USDA rust commentary.

Now, the focus turns to the weather, as conditions along the Gulf Coast appear favorably poised for rust development. The major weather concern in the next few days will be continued rains -- some heavy -- throughout the gulf regions of Texas, Louisiana and Florida. Driven by last week's arrival of tropical depression Barry, the moisture could aid a rust bloom.

"Tropical depression Barry and the end of the high pressure system that was centered over Florida have resulted in a dramatic change in weather conditions in that state," according to USDA. "Barry deposited several inches of rain across peninsular Florida last week. Current forecasts suggest that more typical rain patterns will continue in Florida, which will favor soybean rust development and spread."

Dry air just north of the Gulf coast region is fueling hopes that, even though conditions may favor the coastal development of rust, Mother Nature may help keep it there. "No active sites of soybean rust have been reported in Alabama or Georgia, as both states have been experiencing relatively dry conditions so far this spring," according to Wednesday's USDA soybean rust commentary.

Still, the system of Asian soybean rust surveillance is kicking up in order to catch rust quick if it makes its way further north. "Scouting for soybean rust has intensified and soybean sentinel plots are now being monitored throughout most of the soybean-growing states, and north into Canada," according to USDA.

A new discovery of Asian soybean rust in a kudzu patch in Louisiana and favorable weather conditions for the disease's development in Florida have officials watching for more cases in the southeastern U.S.

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