Asian soy rust has spread to 51 districts in eight Brazilian states, the government crop research bureau Embrapa reported last week.

Embrapa previously reported the fungus that can drastically reduce soy yields was present in 38 districts in six states.

Only 19 of the 51 cases are in commercial crops. The rest are in fields where plants grew from seeds that fell to the ground during the last harvest or fields planted deliberately to detect outbreaks of the disease, Ademir Henning of Embrapa told Reuters News Service

Soy rust was found in two districts of Mato Grosso do Sul and two more in Minas Gerais, Embrapa said.

Embrapa's soy rust task force is closely monitoring the disease, and telling producers to spray their soy crops with fungicide to contain the damage.

The spread of Asian rust will keep the soybean market nervous about Brazilian production. In 2003-2004, soy rust was estimated to have caused losses of 4.5 million metric tons (165.3 million bushels) of soybean production in Brazil.

Richard Brock, The Corn and Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com