New Tool On The Horizon

Retailers and growers should soon be able to predict yield loss caused by Asian soybean rust accurately — and then decide how to manage the situation. The U.S. Risk Management Agency, USDA, and Southern Soybean Research Program are funding an international study to develop an interactive software tool specifically for this purpose.

Saratha Kumudini, University of Kentucky (UK) crop physiologist, is leading the project, which includes an international team of scientists from Brazil and the U.S. Jim Board, Louisiana State University agronomist, is the co-investigator and John Mueller, Clemson University Extension plant pathologist, is the collaborator.

“This is a multidisciplinary team of physiologists, agronomists, Extension specialists, pathologists, and a Web designer,” says Kumudini.

The objective is to predict yield loss from soybean rust at various reproductive stages. Funding actually began in September 2005, and the Brazil team — from the country’s national agricultural department, Embrapa (similar to USDA) — planted approximately 2 acres for the project in December 2005, which matured in April.  “We already have the first year’s data from Brazil,” Kumudini says.

In the U.S., the first fields were planted this spring. The states involved include Kentucky, Louisiana, and South Carolina. The purpose of using fields in several states is two-fold: To collect data from various soybean maturity groups; and to cover a large part of the U.S. that is considered to be a “hot spot” for this disease.

From there, the researchers will develop the interactive tool that would determine a grower’s yield potential and the predicted yield loss if rust should defoliate the crop. Growers, via Extension personnel, will be able to compare the potential yield loss vs. the fungicide application costs — and then make their management decisions.

“We envision growers getting information from the Cooperative Extension Service through the sentinel plot network when rust may be in the area,” she explains. “They can then use this tool to determine the economic feasibility of spraying or not spraying a fungicide on their fields.”
The researchers plan to begin testing the calculator with selected growers in 2007. Depending on its performance, the calculator may be available by 2009.

“The project is quite unique and should generate a product with great value to the soybean industry upon completion,” says Don Hershman, University of Kentucky Extension plant pathologist and Southern region coordinator of the North Central Soybean Research Project. Hershman also will work with Kumudini on the risk management tool as one of the UK project members. “It will be very practical for growers,” he says.

For more details on the project, visit

Spray Strategy Bulletin

“Spraying Solutions,” offered by Spraying Systems Co., is a new education bulletin covering Asian soybean rust management. While the spray tip section is specific to the company’s TeeJet product line, the bulletin contains plenty of non-biased information on developing an effective application strategy to manage soybean rust.

For example, it touches on determining the growth stage and canopy density of the soybean plant, droplet size considerations, spray nozzle selection, and fungicide placement.

Readers can learn the differences between spraying non-selective herbicides and fungicides, and how to select spray nozzles that produce smaller drops for maximum surface coverage.

The four-page bulletin concludes with six important management steps to help custom applicators and growers prepare to manage rust and  ensure optimal application.

Copies are available in pdf format at, or contact the company at 630-665-5000.

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