April’s Ag Advice

April's Ag Advice By April Borders Asian soybean rust has arrived and is here to stay. Fortunately for us, the soybean rust arrived in the U.S. at the end of the growing season and posed little threat to the 2004 crop. We have been given a head start for the 2005 growing season and hopefully we are taking advantage this time by attending training sessions and informational meetings to get the latest information.

Now is the time to start planning and preparing for soybean rust. We don't need to panic or overreact. We just need to be informed and prepared.

The soybean rust disease is an aggressive fungal pathogen and if left unchecked, it could cause a serious stand loss. Scouting will be an essential step in controlling this disease. Scouting needs to begin with the first true set of leaves and needs to continue through the full pod stage. Scouting for this disease will be intense and time consuming, but it is essential.

There are no resistant varieties of soybeans at this time and probably won't be for the next several years. There are some cultural practices that might prove beneficial but the best control method will be the use of fungicides.

There are currently a few fungicides that are registered for control of the disease in soybeans but a Section 18 emergency use exemption has been granted for several other fungicides. Growers will have to have a knowledge of these chemicals because they have limited windows of use and must be applied at the correct time to be effective.

Reading the label will be very important with these chemicals as they have restrictions regarding grazing/haying of the treated soybean forage. We are also encouraging growers and applicators to follow label instructions concerning rotation or tank mixing of these fungicides to delay the buildup of resistance.

Correct sampling will be a key step in ensuring that an accurate diagnosis is made. As we move closer to the growing season we will have a protocol developed for submitting samples. This will insure that we are sending up viable samples and that the results are reported in a timely manner.

We are also looking for producers that would be interested in helping us set up sentinel plots that we can monitor during the season. These plots will be about 25 to 50 square feet but will need to be planted about two to three weeks earlier than our normal crops. If you are interested in working with us to monitor for soybean rust, please give me a call and we can discuss the project in more detail.

There are two other things that you will need to consider. The first is to make sure that you have budgeted for the cost of the fungicide and application fees. If you see soybean rust, this added cost could be a burden unless you have prepared for it in your crop budget. The second issue of concern is crop insurance. Make sure to check with your agent to see what the specifics are in your policy. What we are hearing is that federal crop insurance does cover lost production due to an outbreak of soybean rust. That's the good news! The bad news is if growers do not spray rust-infected fields, they may not be able to collect insurance money on the lost yield.

What happens if there just aren't enough sprayers available? According to the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA), "If you have done everything that you possibly can and you still can't get your crop sprayed, you are covered." However, growers need to be prepared to prove that they have made every possible effort to get the crop sprayed.

So the bottom line to all of this is be prepared, be proactive, not reactive to this disease!

There is a lot of information out there, some good, some not so good. So if you have questions please feel free to come to one of our training sessions or call

our office at 677-7111. Another good site for information can be found at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/sbr/sbr.html and http://www.ncpmc.org/soybeanrust/index.html.

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