This is the first year that soybean rust (SBR) has successfully overwintered in Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana, without a break in detection. Weather conditions have been favorable to highly favorable for SBR development in those states, plus Arkansas, Florida, and Mississippi for much of this spring. There has been some new SBR activity in Florida and disease incidence is increasing on Kudzu in positive sites in Louisiana, but there has been no spread to new Kudzu patches or to soybean to date. Specialists in many southern states are expecting SBR to begin spreading into new areas soon, provided conditions remain favorable for disease development.
Delayed planting of soybean in many states, due to wet conditions, may push crop maturity back a few weeks. This, plus the potential for earlier disease development due to successful overwintering in the mid-Gulf region, could increase the potential for SBR to cause more crop damage then we have seen to date. Of course, if conditions turn drier, this increased disease potential may translate into nothing. We all hope this is the case. In any event, it would be prudent to keep tabs on this developing situation.