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Soybean rust found north of equator in South America

(Monday, Aug. 23, 2004 -- CropChoice news) -- DTN, 08/21/04: USDA officials earlier this week told the American Soybean Association (ASA) that Asian soybean rust has been discovered five degrees above the equator in Colombia, the farthest north the fungus has been found in South America.

"Confirmation of soybean rust above the equator signals the advancement of spores in the direction of the continental United States," said Ron Heck, an Iowa soybean grower and ASA chairman.

U.S. experts working to predict the spread of Asian soybean rust have said that once soybean rust moves north of the equator, conditions are more favorable for its movement into the U.S. July and August are the likely months of its arrival, according to Monte Miles, plant pathologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service at the University of Illinois.

As the disease moves further north, the probability of getting soybean rust increases each year, Miles says.

Prevailing winds are part of what has kept rust south of the equator, along with the unavailability of a host. Also, north of the equator soybeans are planted in the spring.

"Because no one knows for sure when soybean rust will be introduced in the United States, we must work with the current knowledge that it could be a few months to perhaps five years or longer," Heck said.