Soybean rust could eat up Georgia crop - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Soybean rust could eat up Georgia crop

November 23, 2004

Seminole County-- A soybean disease that was found in the United States for the first time just two weeks ago is now in South Georgia, and it could spread to other crops.

Seminole County Extension Agent Rome Ethredge is constantly inspecting crops, but recently he found something unexpected in a field planted with soybeans.

"We find it on the plants, we're finding it across Georgia now. It was first found here in Seminole county, but we're finding it in many areas."

"It" is Asiatic soybean Rust, a fungus that originated in Asia and has since been found in Australia, Africa and South America. That's where scientists believe it then hitched a ride to the United States with Hurricane Ivan.

"It has had a big economic impact on the economy of South America over the past three years."

The rust attacks the leaves, causing them to prematurely fall to the ground. This limits the photosynthesis process and decreases the yield, because the beans just aren't getting enough food. But there is good news. The rust shouldn't cause much damage to crops in Georgia this year, since it arrived so late in the season and scientists believe cold weather will kill it.

But it could come back next year. "Soybean farmers for next year need to be alert and listen to recommendations from the University of Georgia Extension Service as to whether we need to spray fungicide or not."

But since soybeans aren't a major crop in South Georgia and fungicides are expensive, farmers will have to determine if it's worth planting the beans at all.

The fungus can also hurt southern peas and pole, lima, and snap beans. It does not damage peanuts and cotton and is not harmful to humans.


posted at 3:25PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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