Asian soybean rust has been confirmed in east-central Alabama on the Auburn University campus.

“This time, we found rust in a sentinel plot near my office — about 100 yards from the lab,” said Ed Sikora, Extension plant pathologist at Auburn on Tuesday. “We collected samples from the plot last Friday (July 29) and found three leaves on one plant that had about 20 pustules.”

During the first week of August, Sikora and colleagues were scheduled to be at the American Phytopathological Society (APS) annual meeting in Austin, Texas. As a result, the samples were sent to a Florida lab for confirmation. Soybean rust was confirmed on Monday morning (Aug. 1).

In light of the new finding, “in central Alabama, farmers with soybeans beyond the R-1 stage should consider a fungicide application,” said Sikora. “That’s definitely the case in south Alabama.”

The Auburn discovery is the “furthest north we’ve found rust this year. Even though it’s of low intensity and there aren’t any other reports outside Baldwin County, growers should put a fungicide out. Rust isn’t moving as fast as we feared it would. But it is popping up here and there so growers need to keep an eye out.”

Soybean rust’s jump north surprised Sikora.

“We’ve been monitoring sentinel plots in Headland, near Dothan in the southeast corner of the state. We’ve been checking those plots at least twice a week because it’s near Seminole County, Georgia and some of the Florida positive sites. That area has seen a few instances of rust so I thought we’d see it there first. I keep thinking we’ll find rust there but we never do. It’s kind of odd that site remains clean and yet rust showed up at Auburn.”

e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com