Expert to discuss industry plans to fight soybean rust

July 20, 2004

The featured speaker at the 2004 Maryland Commodity Classic is Dr. Reid Frederick, a leading authority on Asian soybean rust, who will discuss how the U.S. soybean industry is gearing up for a possible crop invasion by the disease.

The Classic, annually one of the largest farmer gatherings in Maryland, is hosted jointly by the Maryland Grain Producers Association and the Maryland Soybean Board. It will be held this year at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, Md., on Thursday, July 29.

With support primarily from the United Soybean Board, which administers the national soybean checkoff program, scientists have been preparing for the possible introduction of soybean rust since 1995.

Frederick leads that research at the USDA's Ag Research Service's Foreign Disease-Weed Science Unit. He has visited rust-infected countries and has seen firsthand the devastation and yield-robbing potential of rust.


"Right now, I think rust is an abstract concept for U.S. soybean farmers," Frederick said in a recent issue of Production Quarterly.

"But I saw the disease firsthand in Africa and how devastating it was for those farmers. I saw the explosive rate at which the fungus spread and the leaves dropped. But they were not prepared for rust. And that is why our rust research is so important to U.S. soybean farmers."

With checkoff funding, Frederick and co-workers Drs. Glen Hartman and Monte Miles have been able to screen almost all 16,000 of the soybean germplasm lines maintained by USDA to identify those lines demonstrating resistance or tolerance to rust.

Through this screening, they have found approximately 400 germplasm lines that have shown some form of resistance to rust. As the project continues, research will focus on these lines in more extensive tests.

"It's critical that we carry out this extensive germplasm examination for tolerance to rust and continue to build our knowledge about this disease," Frederick said. "It's also good to see dialogue between the United Soybean Board, the American Soybean Association, the Environmental Protection Agency and several chemical companies regarding fungicides to help protect U.S. soybeans from rust."

He said that three years ago, there were no fungicides available for rust. Now, there are three registered brands of fungicides available to U.S. farmers.

Registration for the Commodity Classic begins at 10:30 a.m. at the fairgrounds. The annual membership and business meeting of MGPA will begin at 1 p.m. The event concludes with a traditional crab feast, and pork and beef barbecue. Entry prior to 2:30 p. m. is $10; after 2:30 p.m., $20. No one will be permitted to enter the fairgrounds after 3:45 p.m.

For ticket information, call Lynne Hoot, executive director of MGPA, at 1-410-956-5771.

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