Monitoring for soybean rust saves $25 million
By Peter Hull
Monitoring systems and reduced pesticide sprays save South Carolina soybean growers more than $25 million a year, with about $10 million saved in reduced crop losses and about $15 million in reduced spraying costs.
Soybean rust is a disease that causes severe yield losses through premature leaf-drop and decreased seed weight.
In 2009, South Carolina growers produced more than 14 million bushels on 590,000 acres with a gross value of nearly $140 million. Less than 1 percent of the crop was lost to rust.
John Mueller, Clemson soybean pathologist at the Edisto Research and Education Center, leads the monitoring program with Extension agents, regulatory agents and growers in 16 South Carolina counties.
To reduce the threat of rust affecting crops, Mueller recommends that growers plant earlier — April instead of June — so most soybeans will be harvested before rust arrives, typically in August or September. He also suggests spraying only in areas where rust is found by monitoring.
“With every day that goes by ‘rust-free,’ the odds of rust damage to our early planted soybeans becomes less and less,” Mueller said.
The monitoring project is a model for the nation and is funded by the U.S Department of Agriculture, United Soybean Board, S.C. Soybean Board and the North Central Soybean Research Council.
For information: John Mueller, 803-284-3343 ext. 223, firstname.lastname@example.org