Mississippi researchers completed planting sentinel plots for Asian soybean rust in early April. Since its arrival in Louisiana a few years ago, the fungal disease has shown up earlier and earlier in the growing season.

With that knowledge — and with producers set to begin soybean planting shortly — Tom Allen says it’s imperative to have the sentinel plots placed well and planted early.

Does Mississippi’s 2010 sentinel plot set-up have any major changes?

“We made few changes,” says Allen, Mississippi State University Extension and research assistant professor at the Delta Research and Extension Center, Stoneville, Miss. “The biggest changes we have are the plots in Harrison County and Hancock County.

“We’d been on the look out for good locations for sentinel plots down there, close to the beach. We hadn’t had much luck until this year. These new locations should escape deer damage and be very close to the Gulf Coast.

“In all likelihood, if we find soybean rust early in the season in south Mississippi, it’ll be in one of those (new) locations.”

As for when soybean rust might be found in 2010, Allen says, “No one has an idea, right now. There are a lot of opinions about when rust will hit this year. All I know: we’ll be out looking for rust just as much as we have in the past. That certainly hasn’t changed.”

For more on soybean rust, see http://deltafarmpress.com/searchresults/?ord=d&terms=soybean+rust.

Allen says he and colleagues are also concerned with stripe rust reports in Louisiana wheat.

“With all the talk of Louisiana’s stripe rust situation, I’m mindful that Mississippi likely has some. Even though I’ve been out looking, I haven’t seen any in the state. I’ll be out scouting more this week because, right now, the weather is conducive for stripe rust.

Mississippi’s wheat acreage “is hard to nail down. Planting intentions are one thing, but actual acres? A lot of farmers meant to plant wheat but didn’t have a chance to get the crop planted in the fall because it was too wet.”

Allen suspects Mississippi has “somewhere between 100,000 and 250,000 acres of wheat. I doubt we’re at the high end of that range, though.

“There is a good deal of wheat in south Mississippi. That wheat will be double-cropped with soybeans. I’ve heard from folks there that say they’re unlikely to harvest wheat in early June — it’ll likely be mid-June before they begin. So, we’ll be planting soybeans a bit later in some of those locations than we have in the past.”

On April 4, Allen released the following letter regarding Mississippi’s soybean rust efforts. It reads:

“We were able to finish planting sentinel plots this past Thursday (April 1). We planned 24 sentinel plots this season, with the last one to be planted by the producer in Forrest County (just south of Hattiesburg). Plots were planted with a late MG 3, late MG 4, mid-MG 5, and a MG 7 soybean. The plots in Hancock and Harrison counties are close to the Gulf of Mexico with one in Bay St. Louis and the other at the experiment station in Biloxi.

“Counties with sentinel plots: Amite, Bolivar, Claiborne, Coahoma, DeSoto, Forrest, George, Hancock, Harrison, Hinds, Issaquena, Jackson, Lee, Monroe, Newton, Noxubee, Pearl River, Pike, Tippah, Tishomingo, Walthall, Warren, Washington, and Wayne.

“Winter temperatures killed kudzu all the way back to the Gulf Coast in Mississippi as well as Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana. Reports of soybean rust during January in Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana did occur due to some kudzu that remained in protected locations. However, by February and March it was determined that kudzu had succumbed to the cold temperatures across the South and no rust remained at any of the locations in Florida, Georgia, or Louisiana.

“As of (April 4) the only known soybean rust is on a single kudzu vine growing on the inside of an abandoned building in Mobile, Ala. This building was recently sold to a new owner who planned on demolishing the location. I have not heard a report if this has occurred yet but will keep you posted.

“This is the first year that we have essentially started at zero with regards to soybean rust. None of us truly know what to expect with regards to the progression of the disease this season. This will ultimately depend on the weather when we get further into the growing season.

“Additionally, Mexico is reporting some soybean rust this year but so far this hasn’t influenced soybeans (volunteers mostly at this point) present in southern Texas.

“Remember, throughout the season the soybean rust hotline, (866) 841-1847 — sponsored by the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board and BASF — will be updated regularly or as needed depending on the situation. This is a free call and can be easily updated from the road as we scout throughout the state.”

e-mail: dbennett@farmpress.com