Soybean Rust Fast Track System Gets an Overhaul

April 11, 2008

By Daren Mueller, Extension Plant Pathologist

In 2004, the Soybean Rust Fast Track System was put in place to ensure rapid identification of soybean rust through First Detectors and Triage Team Members. Over the past four years, more than 700 individuals were trained as First Detectors or Triage Members as part of the Iowa Soybean Rust Fast Track System. While soybean rust did not infect fields in Iowa until late 2007, we feel that the Fast Track System training helped Iowa growers and agribusinesses through many of the unknowns surrounding soybean rust.  

One lesson learned while scouting for soybean rust in the southern states and in confirming the first occurrences of soybean rust in Iowa in 2007 is that the identification of the disease in the field at low incidence (less than 10 percent of leaves infected) and severity is very difficult. To identify low levels of soybean rust, leaf samples must be incubated and observed in the laboratory using a microscope, not observed for lesions and pustules out in the field.


A microscope is required to identify low-levels of soybean rust on soybean leaves.

One of the main responsibilities of the First Detectors and Triage Team Members was to filter out samples suspected of being infected with soybean rust that were clearly infected with other foliar diseases, not rust. However, because of the difficulty identifying soybean rust in the field, the functioning of the Fast Track System is being changed. First Detectors and Triage Team Members will no longer be asked to filter out samples with other soybean diseases.

The new role of First Detectors and Triage Team Members is to serve as a conduit to get samples submitted properly to Iowa State University. If soybean rust is suspected in a particular field, samples should be submitted to the ISU Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic even if tell-tale lesions and pustules are not observed. We are in the process of writing a new publication explaining how to submit a sample for early and accurate diagnosis of soybean rust.

Daren Mueller is an extension specialist in the Department of Plant Pathology.

Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Integrated Crop Management News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on April 11, 2008. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.

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Daren Mueller Assistant Professor

Dr. Daren Mueller is an assistant professor and extension plant pathologist at Iowa State University. He is also the coordinator of the Iowa State University Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. Dr. Mueller eraned his bachelor's degree from the Unive...