Soybean rust is in the United States, and that means everyone needs to be on the look out. Assistance will be coming from sentinel soybean plots in 20 states, developed by X.B. Yang, an Iowa State University plant pathologist. He received $389,000 which will be used to plant and monitor soybean plots and provide an early warning system for Asian soybean rust.

"The goal is to establish a monitoring and early warning system to guide soybean producers in making fungicide application decisions for Asian soybean rust control," Yang says.

The North Central Soybean Research Program and the United Soybean Board funded the two-year project, which started April 1. Researchers in each state will plant 20 sites of early maturing soybeans in 30-square-foot plots. The plots will be scouted intensively and provide an early warning system for growers.

"Soybean plants are more vulnerable to rust after flowering and the sentinel plots will be planted with early maturing varieties to alert researchers and producers if soybean rust is present in the region," notes Yang.

Planting is underway for Iowa's sentinel plots. Mark Honeyman, coordinator for the Iowa State research farms, said 11 of Iowa's plots are located on Iowa State research and demonstration farms. 

"It's the perfect role for Iowa's public research farms and it is exactly why we are here," he says. "This is an excellent example of how a land-grant university serves the agricultural sector in the state."

Honeyman says the plots were planted early and will be from frost protected if needed. These plantings will provide an early maturing crop that will be more susceptible to soybean rust spores.

Asian soybean rust is an aggressive fungus that was first detected in the United States in Louisiana in November 2004. Yang says the disease's spread in the United States is dependent on the amount of soybean rust that survives the winter in Gulf Coast regions and how quickly soybean rust is carried from southern areas by winds.

Yang points out that producers are currently limited to the use of fungicides to manage soybean rust. If fungicides are applied too early or too late, the application won't be effective. The sentinel plots will help researchers monitor the movement of the disease and allow producers to apply fungicides at the appropriate time.

The public is welcome to visit Iowa's sentinel plots located on research and demonstration farms near Ames, Castana, Chariton, Crawfordsville, Fruitland, Greenfield, Kanawha, Lewis, Nashua, Newell and Sutherland.

States participating in the project include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Iowa State University