As southeast soybean crops dry down, Asian soybean rust is becoming easier to find. New reports of the fungal disease are popping up all over the southeast. In late October, 10 new cases were announced in Alabama, some 30 cases had been located in South Carolina and, for the first time, a handful of cases were found in North Carolina. Georgia also continues to find new incidences of the fungal disease regularly.

Asian soybean rust has also moved further west. On Oct. 28, Ray Schneider found the first incidence of the disease in Louisiana this year. Schneider, a professor of plant pathology with the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge, La., has a good eye for the disease. On Nov. 6, 2004, he was the first to find Asian soybean rust in the United States.

“We've had sentinel plots out since March and have checked them at least weekly,” said

Clayton Hollier, Louisiana Extension plant pathologist. “We're at 98 percent harvested, so this isn't a concern for our crop. But we'll continue to monitor things because people further north of us haven't harvested yet. They need to know if this rust is moving and is a threat to them.”

In Alabama, Ed Sikora, the state's Extension plant pathologist, has been checking many kudzu patches for the disease. “(On Oct. 23) I was heading home from a meeting in Tallahassee. Going home, I drove up the eastern edge of Alabama and stopped to check 14 random kudzu patches along the road. Of the 10 new incidences I found, seven were on kudzu. The infection rate, except for one case, was low.”

Most Alabama farmers are happy with their soybean yields.

“Harvest is nearly done. I've heard some excellent yields. Depending on the area, farmers report 50-, 60- or 70-bushel yields. As far as I can tell, there hasn't been any significant soybean rust damage to a commercial field. I've traveled back to fields where rust showed up at mid-season. The crops still looked good. The impact of soybean rust has been negligible in Alabama — at least from what I've been able to document.”