USDA has confirmed Asian soybean rust has been found in Tennessee. The Dec. 1 announcement followed hard on the heels of a similar confirmation in the Missouri Bootheel. The disease has now been found in all Delta states.

“When rust was confirmed in Arkansas, we began pulling samples here,” said Angela Thompson, Tennessee Extension soybean specialist. “Those samples — from fields near the Mississippi River as well as from mid-state — were looked at in our diagnostic lab in Nashville. Some samples raised concerns, and we sent those to the USDA lab in Maryland. Those all turned out negative.”

Then, agents found some suspicious beans in Shelby County, Tenn., near the Memphis Agricenter.

“We sent those to Maryland a while back. Unfortunately, they needed more sampling material to complete their tests, so that delayed the results. Once we got some more samples to them, though, they confirmed we had the rust.”

Thus far, Shelby County is the only place found with the soybean rust. “It makes sense we'd find it there,” said Thompson. “It's just across the bridge from the first confirmed Arkansas rust site in Crittenden County.” The beans the rust was found on weren't volunteer, and other host plants for the disease appear clear. “These were older beans that hadn't dropped all their leaves. We also pulled some kudzu near the rust fields in Memphis. Those leaves looked fine.”

The search parties have been called off, said Thompson. “It's here, so the mystery is over. And we had our second good freeze Dec. 1, so our kudzu is now freeze-damaged and shutting down. That's one less home for this rust. We do have a few beans still in the field — growers are just waiting for a couple of dry days to finish harvest.”

Thompson said finding the disease wasn't a surprise, but not finding it more widespread is. “The hurricanes pushed some bad weather through Alabama into the middle of Tennessee. We thought it would be there — there was a lot of wind damage during the hurricanes — but it wasn't.”

As in other states with the disease, a large education campaign is gearing up. “We'll be doing intensive educational outreach during the off-season. Farmers should attend their area meetings because there will be plenty of information for them.”


(Editor's note: Tennessee farmers wanting more information can check www.utcrops.com.)