We have never had a major breakout of Asian Soybean Rust (ASR) in the United States. Sure, it has been spotted numerous times on kudzu, its overwintering host, and it has been found on occasion in soybeans—but there never was an epidemic. It may have something to do with the fact that the ASR spores haven’t adapted well to our North American climate’s cold winters and hot summers.
Those of you who know me might be thinking that “Could this be the year?” is referring to the Cubs and whether they will make the postseason playoffs. While I have some excitement around the start of the Cubs season, I am actually talking about Asian Soybean Rust. Asian Soybean Rust has been detected on kudzu in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi and six weeks earlier than it has normally been found. This means that ASR has six additional weeks to develop inoculum and possibly blow up to the Midwest.
Below are the maps of ASR detection with 2015 on the left and 2016 on the right. The red area is where the disease has been found. There have been significantly more sightings in 2016 than in 2015.
Is this something we should worry about? No, I don’t think it is something to worry about, but it is something to pay attention to. There are lots of people paying attention to this disease and we should have plenty of warning if we get storms that could bring it up the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys to central Illinois.
I also want you to know that while ASR can be devastating to soybean yields, it can be managed with fungicides like Stratego® YLD. I am not trying to get anyone concerned, I just wanted to let you know that if you hear ASR warnings, it is something we are aware of as we head into the season.