Is Soybean Rust too close for comfort?

In 2001, the Asian species of Soybean Rust was observed for the first time in South America, notably in Brazil and Paraguay. Known for its rapid, windborne spread, the discovery and impact of Soybean Rust in South America has alarmed the U.S. soybean industry, which generates approximately $13 billion annually.

Soybean Rust has long been noted as a serious fungal leaf disease of soybean in Asia, Africa, and Australia, with yield losses reported from 10 to 80 percent. In 1994, the disease was observed on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. While the disease is yet to appear in the continental U.S., plant pathologists with the American Phytopathological Society (APS) say the possibility of this disease occurring and creating substantial yield loss in the United States is very real.

According to Gary Peterson of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the appearance of the disease in South America was a "wake-up call" that we need to be prepared for the potential entry of this disease into the U.S. "This disease can cause significant yield losses and fungicide control measures can be costly," Peterson said. "If Soybean Rust is found in the U.S., we must to be prepared to make rapid decisions and take effective actions based the available science. Early detection could be critical to the overall cost of control, so public awareness is important," he said.

The current knowledge and disease management tools for Soybean Rust will be the focus of a symposium at the APS Annual Meeting in Charlotte, NC, August 9-13, 2003. This symposium will cover the biology of the disease, current status of resistant breeding programs, methods of detection and identification, fungicide control, disease modeling for the U.S., and a presentation of the new USDA Soybean Rust Action Plan. Presentations will be followed by an open discussion period.

Thanks to travel support from the United Soybean Board, two invited guest speakers, Dr. Jose Tadashi Yorinori (Brazil) an

Contact: Amy Steigman
American Phytopathological Society

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