On Wednesday morning (Aug. 24), Asian soybean rust was confirmed in a Georgia production field for the first time. The rust was found in Appling County, in southeast Georgia, on five leaves from plants at R-3/R-4.

A week earlier, Phil Jost, Georgia Extension soybean specialist, predicted the disease would soon be found in a commercial field. “A continuing spread of the rust is a very reasonable expectation, especially if we stay in the current humid, rainy conditions,” he said.

The Appling County discovery isn’t the only new rust site in Georgia. On Tuesday (Aug. 23), soybean rust was confirmed in Tifton, where rust was found earlier this summer. The latest finding is in a previously clean sentinel plot at the Rural Development Center. In the plot, rust was found in both Group IVs and VIIs. The Group VIIs are at R-3.

Also on Tuesday, rust was confirmed in a Prattville, Alabama, sentinel plot. Prattville is in Autauga County some 10 miles north of Montgomery.

“Infection was at very low level on some R-6 beans,” said Ed Sikora, Alabama Extension plant pathologist on Wednesday morning. “The plot didn’t have much of a canopy. In fact, the beans are pretty spread out. We still found rust, though, which I found interesting.”

With the latest finding, “We’ve got a line of rust counties running east-west through the central part of the state: Lee, Elmore and Autauga counties. The disease is definitely roaming through central Alabama.”

The Prattville plot will be destroyed, said Sikora. “The crop in this particular plot is so far along we don’t have any use for it. Other plots have been destroyed too.

“We do have a couple of infected sentinel plots we’ve kept going for research purposes. Working with the USDA, we’ve gotten some really good data about how the rust operates in our environment.”

Any increase in the use of fungicides in Alabama?

“We’ve had a couple of field days recently. A lot of growers at those said they’ve already sprayed or would shortly. There’s a definite increase — a tremendous increase, actually — in fungicide use compared to last year.

“I just walked out of an R-3 soybean field with a grower. I suggested he apply a combo spray (strobilurin and triazole) on those 60 acres. He seemed ready to do that. There’s certainly more awareness about the need to spray.”

e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com