Soybean rust, a fungal pathogen of soybean, successfully overwintered on kudzu in Baldwin and Mobile counties. Kudzu, a tropical legume, is the main overwintering host for the pathogen in the United States. Soybean rust survives on kudzu along the Gulf Coast and down into central Florida when winter temperatures are mild and no significant freeze events occur, as was the case this year.
The presence of the pathogen in Alabama at this time does not necessarily mean there will be a significant outbreak of the disease this year. However, it does suggest the potential for an epidemic later in the season is possible. Other factors, including rainfall during the growing season, average daily temperatures, and the occurrence of early season tropical storms, will dictate how much producers should fear soybean rust this year.
Alabama Extension professionals will continue to monitor soybean rust activity throughout the spring and summer with the use of a soybean sentinel plot system. Soybean rust alerts will made available if it appears the disease is becoming a problem for soybean growers in the state.