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Expert advises what to watch for this year

There are four key areas of concern for growers in 2006:

1. Soybean rust. North America got by with little or no damage from soybean rust in 2005.

However, we should not become complacent. The 2005 growing season tended to be hot and dry through much of the Corn Belt.

Thus, if spores were traveling north from infected kudzu or soybean plants in the South, the opportunity for germination and large-scale infestation was greatly reduced.

The 2004 season, on the other hand, tended to be relatively cool and damp, conditions much more favorable for disease initiation and spread. My crystal ball doesn't begin to be clear enough to predict what 2006 will be like, but let's not forget that rust has been reported at a significant number of sites in the South, and kudzu has not disappeared from the landscape.

We need to stay vigilant.

2. Soybean aphids. For whatever reason, I don't think aphids were a widespread problem in 2005. It may be that predator numbers have grown sufficiently to keep the aphids under control. However, I wouldn't want to bet the farm that they're gone forever.

3. Sclerotinia white mold. Again, not much of a problem in 2005. This would be expected given the generally hot and dry conditions in the Corn Belt. White mold was significant late in the season in 2004. If we return to cooler, wetter conditions in 2006, there is the potential for this disease to raise its ugly head again.

4. Frogeye leaf spot. We have traditionally considered this as a Southern disease. However, it showed up farther north in 2005 than normal, so as far as this year goes, who knows?

John Thorne is the retired head of soybean breeding for Syngenta and a High Yield Team expert panel member.

There are four key areas of concern for growers in 2006:

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