Asian rust 'visually confirmed' to have spread in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. – While still awaiting lab results, Asian soybean rust has been “visually confirmed” on five more Louisiana soybean samples sent to the USDA’s Beltsville, Md., lab. The announcement removes any hope the disease could be confined to two Baton Rouge-area soybean fields where it was originally discovered.

“Yesterday, four teams of researchers fanned out across Louisiana following the USDA/APHIS protocol to assess the Asian soybean rust situation,” says David Lanclos, Louisiana Extension soybean specialist. “Some of the collected samples were suspicious because they had lesions consistent with Asian soybean rust. Lab results of those samples should be in early next week.”

The location of the samples is consistent with recent hurricane patterns – especially Ivan, says Lanclos.

The four research teams spanned over a 100-mile radius from Baton Rouge. Inside that radius, 56 soybean samples were taken as well as nine kudzu samples. All kudzu samples were “visually affirmed” to be clear of the rust.

The teams surveyed about 10,000 square miles all together, which included about half of the soybean production areas in the state. They visited 14 parishes in Louisiana and one county in Mississippi.

In Mississippi, APHIS-led teams scouted fields around Natchez. As of late Friday afternoon, the disease hadn’t been found in the state.

“I’m really happy about this,” says Alan Blaine, Mississippi Extension soybean specialist. “We can’t find it – and, believe me, we’ve looked.”

What was suspected to be Asian soybean rust was found for the first time in the United States in soybean fields at two LSU AgCenter research farms near Baton Rouge Nov. 6. It was confirmed as Asian soybean rust on Wednesday at the USDA’s Beltsville lab.

Asian soybean rust is a fungal disease that interferes with photosynthesis. The plant cannot grow, so yields can be severely restricted. The disease has been known to destroy entire fields of soybeans.

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