More than 90 Percent of Iowa's Soybean Growers Aware of New Disease

April 1st, 2005

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) annual survey indicates that 94 percent Iowa farmers who intend to plant soybeans are aware of Asian soybean rust. The survey results also indicate that 87 percent of all Iowa farmers are aware of the disease.

Greg Tylka, coordinator of the Iowa State University Corn and Soybean Initiative, said the survey indicates that the Iowa Soybean Rust Team is meeting its goal to keep Iowa farmers informed.

"We've been planning for soybean rust for more than two years," Tylka said. "During that time we developed a system to detect its movement into the state and we're also providing research-based risk assessments and information on how to manage the disease."

The disease was carried by winds into the United States and first discovered in Louisiana in November. The survey results indicate that its entry into the United States has not changed farmer's planting decisions in Iowa. Bob Wisner, Iowa State agricultural economist, said that a number of southern states reported intentions to sharply reduce soybean acreages.

"The results of the survey aren't surprising, considering that Iowa has an advantage because soybean rust will not survive our winters," Wisner said. "That means farmers have potentially less risk and more flexibility in managing the disease than farmers in southern states."

The report states that the greatest decrease in soybean acreage occurred in the southern states of Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, where 63 percent of the responding farmers are planning to decrease soybean plantings.

The survey results indicate that growers in 16 states plan to decrease soybean plantings and growers in 11 states plan to increase soybean acreages. In Iowa, only 8 percent said soybean rust was a factor in their planting decisions and of those 10 percent said they plan to increase their soybean acreages, 49 percent said they plan to decrease soybean acreages and 41 percent said they hadn't changed their planting plans this year.

Iowa is one of the top soybean-producing states in the nation, bringing in an estimated 497 million bushels last year, nearly 16 percent of the nation's total. The value of corn and soybean production to Iowa's economy is an estimated $7 billion.

The Iowa Soybean Rust Team has trained more than 500 agronomists and crop professionals and thousands of growers on how to diagnose and manage the disease. Along with Iowa State University, the Iowa Soybean Rust Team includes representatives from the Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa Soybean Promotion Board, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

To measure awareness of Asian soybean rust and how its discovery has affected planting decisions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture included questions about soybean rust in its agricultural survey conducted every March by NASS. Farmers are selected from across the United States and asked what they intend to plant during the upcoming growing season for a number of crops, including soybeans. The survey sampled 68,000 farmers in 31 soybean-producing states.

Contacts: 

Greg Tylka, Plant Pathology, (515) 294-3021, gltylka@iastate.edu
Robert Wisner, Economics, (515) 294-6310, rwwisner@iastate.edu
Barbara McBreen, Communications Service, (515) 294-0707, barbmc@iastate.edu