State ag officials say there is no evidence a potentially-devastating soybean disease is anywhere in the area where a diseased leaf was reportedly found earlier this year. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says a leaf from a soybean plant was turned in to Iowa State University’s Plant Disease Clinic in March that was said to have been found in a bin in Mahaska County.

Northey says the leaf was covered with Asian soybean rust. Northey says: "We checked in the field. We checked neighboring fields. We checked in the bin that the leaf was supposed to have been from and we have not found any evidence of rust — and this was a leaf that was pretty infected — we were not able to find any other evidence of rust so it led us to the conclusion that we did not have rust in any fields last year."

Northey won’t reveal exactly where the infected leaf was supposed to have originated. Northey says: "Not yet. We’ve still got an investigation going on as far as trying to figure out exactly where that came from and why it was represented the way that it was." He says the USDA’s Office of Inspector General is continuing to probe the case, adding, "We take the discovery of any new plant pathogen very seriously, especially one that would be the first recorded occurrence in Iowa."

Northey says Asian soybean rust can do serious damage to a crop. Northey says, "Now it can effect it very dramatically. You can have an outbreak that can cost you half the yield of those soybeans and of course, that’s very tough on the farmer." Iowa growers are expected to have some ten-million acres in soybeans this year. He says Asian soybean rust is treatable, but it’s not cheap.

Northey says, "There are some fungicides out there that, if you catch it at the right time and apply it at the right time, you can control the outbreak. Of course that fungicide and that scouting costs a producer money as well."

Iowa soybean growers are urged to be vigilant for the disease, which has mostly effected Southern states, but it’s been found as far north as Illinois and Indiana. Growers should contact the Iowa Soybean Rust Team First Detectors if they suspect plants might have soybean rust. There is no charge. For details, visit: " www.soybeanrust.info " or your nearest county ISU Extension office.