Mid-South Web site tracks rust

A regional Web site providing updated information on Asian soybean rust is now available online.

Mid-South soybean farmers can go to www.soyrust.org to learn different strategies to fight the threatening disease, including various fungicide controls.

Most importantly, though, they can track any local confirmations of the disease first detected in the United States late last year.

Alan Blaine, Extension soybean agent at Mississippi State University, helped lead a collaborative effort by Extension agents in Southern states ranging from Texas all the way to Georgia.

“This Web site will be on the front lines of this disease, combining efforts from agents in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee,” Blaine said.

While a lot of information has surfaced about rust concerns, Blaine said, some of that data could be incomplete or false. The Web site, which enables visitors to see localized maps by clicking on respective university seals, aims at overcoming that problem. The Web site is also linked to USDA's public soybean rust Web site, which offers critical, helpful information.

Blaine said cooperating agronomists who have been preparing the Web site have simultaneously been in the process of planting test plots in hopes of detecting the disease as early as possible. In Mississippi, for example, he said about 20 ultra-early sentinel plots are already being checked at least once a week, with an additional 27 test plots yet to be established.

He said the latest reviews of Mississippi test plots, as well as checks on fields that evidenced the disease last year, have thus far shown no signs of the spore disease.

Blaine said the Web site's overall goal is to provide farmers with an “early-signal starting point.”

“If rust has shown up near the Gulf Coast, because it moves so fast, we are going to say it's here, we are not going to track it further north (before announcing it),” he said.

Blaine emphasized that the Web site's helpfulness largely depends on how fully and quickly Extension agents and others provide updated information.

“It will only as be as good as how much people feed it information,” he said.

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