Experts have confirmed soybean rust has reached Iowa cropland. Iowa State University researchers examining plants from a field in Dallas County — in central Iowa — confirmed the plants were suffering from a soybean rust infection.
David Wright of the Iowa Soybean Association says the report is an "excellent indicator" that soybean rust "can and will" show up in Iowa again. It’s too late in this year’s growing season for soybean rust to do much damage, though, according to Wright. "Most soybean fields have reached physiological maturity," he says. "However there are some late-planted soybeans out there that may be at risk and so we’re encouraging growers who may have those types of fields to just go out and take a look and make sure."
Soybean rust impedes plant development and reduces yields. Farmers can apply a fungicide to try to kill the rust before it does much damage. Wright says farmers making plans for 2008 need to put a little pad in their business plan the cost of one application of fungicide to their soybean ground, if the rust shows up next year. Seed companies are about four years away from getting a rust-resistant soybean variety on the market, according to Wright.
Soybean rust has also been discovered in fields in Illinois, Kansas and Missouri. Experts say the disease rides wind and air currents from the south where it is able to live during the winter. Soybean rust doesn’t survive Iowa’s frigid winters, however, so what may be found next year in Iowa fields will be carried into the state on a southern breeze.