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44789

Iowa officials find no additional evidence of Asian soybean rust

How and why a single leaf infected with Asian soybean rust was found in Iowa in March are questions that continue to be addressed by federal investigators.

Officials with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and Iowa State University (ISU) have found no further evidence of Asian soybean rust in the field where the leaf was reported to have come or in neighboring fields.

"We did verify that one leaf submitted in a plant sample was infected with Asian soybean rust, but how it got into Iowa still needs to be determined," says Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. "After careful examination of the materials collected to date, we believe no Asian soybean rust infection occurred during the 2006 growing season in Iowa."

After analyzing additional plant materials and finding no evidence of rust, IDALS and Iowa State University officials determined that it warranted further investigation by the USDA's Office of Inspector General.

"We take the discovery of any new plant pathogen very seriously, especially one that would be the first recorded occurrence in Iowa," Northey says.

On March 8, a sample was submitted to ISU's Plant Disease Clinic. The sample was made up of soybean seeds and plant debris--pieces of pods, stems, and a leaf. The sample was reported to have been taken from a bin of soybeans harvested in Mahaska County in 2006. ISU's testing revealed infection by Asian soybean rust. On March 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that the single leaf in the sample was infected with the disease.

On March 13, personnel from IDALS and Iowa State University collected additional samples of seed and plant materials from bins at the location where the sample was allegedly collected. They analyzed the samples and found no symptoms or signs of Asian soybean rust.

IDALS and Iowa State University personnel collected remnants of leaves from the field where the submitted sample reportedly was harvested, as well as from adjacent fields.

In order to infect Midwestern soybeans, Iowa State University scientists say viable spores must blow in from the Gulf Coast states (Florida to Texas) and arrive when there are cool, moist conditions.

Iowa State University specialists have planted 20 sentinel soybean plots around Iowa, which is part of a national sentinel system stretching from Florida and Texas up through the Midwest. The plots are monitored throughout the season and producers will be informed of any threat.

How and why a single leaf infected with Asian soybean rust was found in Iowa in March are questions that continue to be addressed by federal investigators.

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