Soybean rust (Asian soybean rust), a fungus-caused plant disease threatening soybeans and other legumes, has surfaced across many United States regions this growing season, now including Alabama.

Thriving on green, growing plants, the disease flourishes in an environment of high moisture and moderate heat. As such, it is not able to withstand the harsh winter cold of northern environments.

Just recently, soybean rust was spotted in a sentinel plot in central Alabama. Soybean rust was also spotted in Florida counties during the last week of July. At present, the disease has been reported in eight counties in central and north-central Florida, and also in southern Louisiana.

What’s the cause of all these pop ups? Current optimal weather conditions could very well be setting the stage for increased infestation.

While Alabama growers should of course keep an eye out for soybean rust development, the greater threat at present is frogeye leaf spot (FLS), a fungus-caused, fast-expanding disease of soybean in the south.

The most effective way to deal with FLS is simply avoidance. Growers can avoid the pathogen by planting high quality, pathogen-free seed. It’s also strongly urged to apply a tank-mix fungicide combination at the R3 growth stage before the disease appears in the field. Applying a fungicide post-FLS appearance is futile. Prevention is key. Lastly, deep plowing of crop residues and two-year rotations with crops other than soybean can reduce inoculum levels and the disease.

Managing both of these plant diseases – FLS and soybean rust – requires the sound and strategic use of pesticides through an integrated pest management (IPM) plan.

To help finance the purchase of supplies and services needed to keep pests off your farm, including the purchase or rental of equipment, consider an AgAmerica farm loan. As a leading ag lending company, we offer competitive agricultural loans that support a full spectrum of agricultural projects and goals. To evaluate your farm or ranch financing eligibility and needs, contact one of our ag loan experts!