In late April, Iowa State University (ISU) will be testing the Iowa Soybean Rust Fast Track System to see if any adjustments need to be made before the 2005 crop season begins. This system ensures that soybean plant samples suspected of being infected with the fungus causing Asian soybean rust are quickly detected, moved into the diagnosis process, and confirmed as soon as possible.
Fifty Iowa First Detectors, who have agreed to participate in the training exercise, will be randomly chosen. Participants will be sent a color image of soybean leaves with symptoms of Asian soybean rust. This soybean disease image will then need to be treated as if it were soybean leaves plucked from an Iowa field. Participants will receive directions on how to "process" this sample for delivery to a Triage Team member.
The Iowa Fast Track System was developed to increase the speed and accuracy of diagnosing soybean rust. The process is simple. Iowa producers submit rust-suspicious samples to an Iowa First Detector, who will then examine the samples. If warranted, the samples will be submitted to an Iowa Triage Team member who will alert the Iowa State University Plant Disease Clinic that suspect samples are being submitted. If the Iowa State University Plant Disease Clinic determines the submitted samples may have symptoms of Asian soybean rust, the samples will be sent to the National Plant Diagnostic Network regional lab at Michigan State University and the USDA lab in Beltsville, Maryland, for confirmation of the presence of the disease.
There is no charge for samples submitted by Iowa producers using the Iowa Fast Track System. Only those samples submitted to a First Detector and forwarded to a Triage Team member will be considered part of the Iowa Fast Track System. Suspect Asian soybean rust samples submitted outside this process will require the customary fees and slow down the diagnostic process.
Additional information about Asian soybean rust and the Iowa Fast Track System is at Iowa State University Extension county offices and on the web at http://soybeanrust.info.
Greg Tylka, ISU plant pathologist, in a July 2004 training session for First Detectors. (photo by Barbara McBreen).
This article originally appeared on page 53 of the IC-494 (6) -- April 11, 2005 issue.