On Friday (Aug. 5) afternoon, rust was confirmed at two new sites in Georgia’s Laurens and Tift counties. Tift County has already had several incidences of rust. The rust in Laurens County is a first.

“In Laurens County, we found rust on a couple of leaves out of a 100-leaf sample on plants at R-5/R-6,” said Bob Kemerait, Georgia Extension plant pathologist. “But even with that small amount, there was definitely pustules and sporolation happening.”

Rust has quickened its march across the state’s Coastal Plain. “Laurens County is on the northern edge of the plain. This is further evidence Coastal Plain growers need to spray their crops with a fungicide.

“Laurens County is basically at the same latitude as rust sites in Effingham County and Auburn, Ala. Since that’s the case, we’re beginning to look harder at northern Georgia. Producers in north Georgia may not need to spray a fungicide immediately but they do need to be prepared to do so. I don’t think it will be too long before we find rust moving into their area.”

The Tift County rust was found near Chula on a private research farm’s beans at R-3. The sporolation from the site was much more pronounced than in Laurens County.

“Rust hasn’t taken over the field but there are a lot of leaves involved with many pustules. It’s a bit more dramatic than what we’ve seen before.”

The latest cases have led Kemerait to believe rust has reached a critical phase. “I think we’re now on the verge of an epidemic. Over the next few days, the weather is supposed to be rainy and I suspect the rust is about to take off for the first time this year.”

e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com