SOYBEAN RUST IS HERE

After much discussion, fear, and prognostication, the soybean disease known as “Asian soybean rust” has now been officially confirmed in the United States, first in Louisiana and now in other Delta States. It is believed that this year’s strong hurricane season may have moved the Asian rust spores from South America to the Southeast U.S. How fast soybean rust will move and spread within the U.S. is still open for debate, and will likely not be determined until the 2005 growing season. The Asian rust spores will likely over-winter in the southern portions of the U.S. and then spread north with weather patterns during the 2005 growing season. Fortunately, Asian rust spores do not over-winter in the upper Midwest, so the incidence of the disease will vary considerably from year-to-year. However, if soybean rust is present and is not treated, it can cause yield losses as high as 60-80 percent of normal production.

MANAGEMENT OF SOYBEAN RUST

The best advice to Minnesota and Northern Iowa producers regarding Asian soybean rust is …… Don’t Panic ! Asian rust could cause problems in some areas of the U.S. in 2005, and there is potential for major production loss. However, we are fortunate that the disease was identified at the very end of the 2004 growing season, which will result in virtually no loss to this year’s crop, and will allow plenty of time to plan management strategies for the 2005 soybean crop.

Following are some management tips for producers regarding Asian soybean rust :

  • Educate yourself about the disease, including symptoms, how to scout, and available treatment methods. Attend the various meetings that will be held by Universities, the Soybean Association, and Seed Companies, read printed information in publications and on web sites, and follow soybean rust updates during the growing season.
  • Understand that it is not a foregone conclusion that we will have soybean rust in the Upper Midwest in 2005, but there is still a possibility. Most observers feel that Minnesota and Northern Iowa are among the lowest risk areas for soybean rust in the major soybean producing regions in the U.S.
  • Learn what fungicides will be available in 2005 and how the products must be applied. It appears that a wide-range of fungicides will be cleared for usage in-time for the 2005 growing season. Producers should discuss these management options and strategies with their crop consultants and agronomists well before the growing season. Rust-resistant soybean varieties are still a few years away from being available to producers.
  • Realize that there is potential for added cost of production if soybean rust is detected. Average cost for treatment of soybean rust is estimated at about $15-$20 per acre. Many observers also expect Crop Insurance premium costs for soybeans to rise for 2005, because of the added risk associated with the potential for soybean rust.
  • Be cautious before switching planned soybean acres to corn. One reaction to soybean rust might be to switch a large number of planned soybean acres to corn for the 2005 growing season. However, it is possible that large numbers of soybean acres could be switched to other crops for 2005 in other soybean growing areas of the U.S. Some have estimated as high as 5 million acres could be switched. If this occurs, demand for soybeans could increase and we could see stronger soybean market prices in 2005.
  • “Stay tuned” as things change and develop related to soybean rust in the coming months.

LEGISLATIVE FARM FORUM On December 3

“A Profitable Livestock Industry In MN . . . Why Should I Care ?” is the theme of the 22nd Annual Legislative Farm Forum on Friday, December 3 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the South Central Technical College Conference Center, 1920 Lee Blvd., North Mankato. Brian Buhr, Extension Agricultural Economist at the University of Minnesota, will be the keynote speaker for the Forum. Several other Agriculture and Community Leaders, as well as State Legislators from Southern Minnesota, will be on the Forum agenda.

Registration cost for the Forum is $10.00 per person in advance, and pre-registration is requested by Monday, November 29. Cost is $15.00 at the Event, without pre-registration. The registration fee includes the noon lunch and all printed materials. To register or for more information about the forum, contact the Blue Earth County Extension Office by phone at (507) 389-8325 or by e-mail at: blueearth@extension.umn.edu.

Editors note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com