THE DETECTION of soybean rust in Missouri has put producers of the state's top commodity crop on high alert, and University of Missouri Extension specialists have written a guide to help them prepare for next season.

The guide, written by plant pathologists Laura Sweets and Allen Wrather along with Simeon Wright of the MU Plant Diagnostic Clinic, is available in pdf format at http://muextension.missouri.edu/explore/agguides/crops/g04442.htm.

The guide provides detailed descriptions and color photographs of soybean rust symptoms to help producers recognize the pathogen when scouting their fields.

Descriptions and photographs of other soybean leaf diseases found in Missouri are also included to aid in the correct identification of soybean rust.

The guide explains how the disease develops and outlines management strategies. It also contains links to other Web sites about soybean rust, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture site and the MU Plant Diagnostic Clinic site.

Printed copies of the guide sheet are expected to be available before the end of December at county Extension offices, Extension meetings and conferences and from the MU Extension Publications office.

Asian soybean rust, a foliage disease that can significantly depress crop yields, was not identified in the continental United States before November 2004. The wind-borne fungal pathogen is believed to have blown in from the southern hemisphere on hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast this year.