The Brazilian Soybean Miracle That Almost Didn’t Happen

Spraying For Soybean Rust

Spraying For Soybean Rust

Soybean production in Brazil grew rapidly since 1960 with area expanding from 400,000 hectares to 22 million hectares. Brazil is a major soybean producer-62 million tons per year. In 2001, soybean rust was first detected in Brazil and by 2003 the pathogen had spread to the entire country with yield losses up to 75% in individual fields. If fungicides are not used, Brazil would lose about 50% of its soybean production annually.

“More than 50 different fungicidal products are currently labeled for managing soybean rust in Brazil, and many of these have been evaluated annually since 2003/2004 in a nationwide network of standardized, uniform field trials (UFTs) coordinated by Embrapa Soja, a research unit of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation.

We present a meta-analytical synthesis of the results of 71 uniform fungicide trials containing 930 entries (specific fungicidal treatments) conducted in Brazil from 2003/2004 to 2006/2007. …on average, fungicide treatments… increased yield by 43.9%.

The results of this analysis showed that fungicidal control of soybean rust in Brazil is highly effective… (indicating a relative disease reduction of between 90 and 100% in response to treatment). …these comparisons show that, despite favorable environmental conditions for soybean rust epidemics in Brazil, the disease can be managed very effectively with modern fungicides.”

Authors: Scherm, H, et al.
Affiliation: Department of Plant Pathology, University of Georgia.
Title: Quantitative review of fungicide efficacy trials for managing soybean rust in Brazil.
Source: Crop Protection. 2009. 28:774-782.

Brazil: The World’s Future Rice Bowl?


For the past several years, Brazil has caught much of the attention of the global rice market. The large increase in rice production in Brazil, its expanding share in the international rice markets and its highly valued quality rice have made it recognized as a major player in the global rice market. Herbicides have played a major role in the increase in rice production in Brazil.

“Weedy red rice is one of the main problems in most of the rice-growing regions of the world because it decreases rice grain yield and milling quality. …The development of imidazolinone herbicide–resistant rice cultivars has allowed selective control of weedy red rice in the rice crop. This technology has been used across approximately 1.1 million ha in Brazil and the same area in the United States, and is under development in several countries in South and Central America, Central Europe, and Asia. The use of imidazolinone herbicides on imidazolinone-resistant rice cultivars has improved the control of red rice and led to the adoption of better crop management practices. In Brazil, this system started to be used in 2003, and since 2007 these processes resulted in an increase of approximately 40% in the mean rice grain yield in southern Brazil. Similar benefits have also been observed in other areas where this technology has been used.”

Authors: Goulart, C. G. R., et al.
Affiliations: Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
Title: Distribution of weedy red rice (Oryza sativa) resistant to imidazolinone herbicides and its relationship to rice cultivars and wild Oryza species.
Source: Weed Science. 2014. 62:280-293.­ Available:

Weed from Hell Invades Florida

Tropical Soda Apple

Tropical Soda Apple

Tropical soda apple (TSA) is a weed native to Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay that has invaded Florida. The pathway of introduction is unknown, but it may have been accidentally introduced with cattle carrying undigested TSA seeds. Currently, more than 404,000 acres are believed infested in Florida. TSA invades pasture, where it reduces livestock carrying capacity. Dense stands of the prickly shrub prevent cattle access to shaded areas, which results in summer heat stress and economic losses from cattle heat stress have been estimated at $2 million. TSA is a reservoir for at least six crop viruses; in addition, major insect pests use TSA as an alternate host. Herbicides are a major management practice for this “weed from hell.”

“Tropical soda apple (TSA) is an invasive weed of agricultural and natural areas in Florida. The plant is native to South America and was first found in south Florida in 1988. Its spiny foliage and stems are unpalatable to livestock, and dense stands of this prickly plant often grow into large impenetrable thickets.

In some areas of central and south Florida, TSA has covered entire pastures, rendering them unusable for grazing livestock. Some have called this weed the “plant from hell”.

The preferred methods of TSA control were chemical herbicides and mowing. On a statewide basis, 20% of cattle producers used herbicides alone, 7% used mowing alone, and 20% used both methods. Triclopyr and glyphosate were the two most commonly used herbicides reported by cattle producers. However, many had begun using amino-pyralid, an herbicide registered for use in pasture and rangeland in 2005, and becoming the new standard for TSA control. With continued TSA spread and the absence of alternative effective control measures, it is likely that the demand for these herbicides will continue to grow.”

Authors: Salaudeen, T., et al.
Affiliation: College of Agriculture, Florida A&M University.
Title: Economic impact of tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum) on Florida cattle production.
Source: Weed Technology. 2013. 27:389-394.

Southern California Vineyards Recover Thanks to Insecticide Applications

Grapevines Destroyed in 1999

Grapevines Destroyed in 1999

Temecula Today

Temecula Today

In 1999, about one-third of the vineyards in Temecula Valley, Riverside County, California were destroyed due to Pierce’s Disease which is caused by a bacteria transmitted to grapevines by an insect-the glassy winged sharpshooter. The disease seemed destined to spread throughout Southern California. However, research demonstrated that a carefully-timed insecticide application would prevent the sharpshooter from transmitting the disease to grapevines. As a result of this insecticide use, the wine grape industry in Southern California has recovered and is prospering.

“Twelve years ago a Pierce’s disease epidemic in Southern California wine grapes prompted a multi-pronged local, state and federal attack to contain the disease spread and find a cure or treatment.

Riverside County agriculture officials declared a local emergency in 1999 and 300 acres of Temecula wine grape vines were destroyed after they were found to be infested with the glassy winged sharpshooter.

Emergencies were declared, a task force was formed, and in 2000 $22.3 million in federal financial assistance was secured to reduce pest infestations and support research.

Research found that the Southern California epidemics were almost entirely the result of vine-to-vine transmission…. A protocol of applying one carefully timed application of a persistent systemic insecticide such as imidacloprid virtually eliminates the vine-to-vine spread.

Ben Drake is a Temecula-area wine grape grower and vineyard manager who began seeing problems from PD in the Temecula Valley as early as 1997.

We’ve found that if we apply (imidacloprid) at the middle to the end of May, before the sharpshooter moves out of the citrus and goes into the vineyards, we get levels of the material into the plant high enough that when the sharpshooter flies over from the citrus groves to try it, they just fly back where they came from. Or, if they feed long enough, it will kill them.

But just look at the Temecula Valley now to understand what’s changed: From 12 wineries in 1999, the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association website today lists more than 50 growers and 34 wineries…. A thriving agritourism industry has developed…. Existing wineries are expanding and new ones are under construction or in planning phases.”

Author: Christine Thompson
Affiliation: Reporter
Title: Grape growers urged to remain vigilant against sharpshooter pest
Source: Western Farm Press. 2011-12-12. Available at:

Soybean Rust Stopped in its Tracks

soybean rust

Soybean Rust Pustules

Asian soybean rust (ASR) was first detected in the continental U.S. in 2004 in Louisiana. Before the discovery in the U.S., the yield losses caused by ASR in many parts of the world were devastating. In South America, especially in Brazil, yield losses ranged from 10 to 80%. Funding was made available for a network of ASR sentinel plots that would serve as an early-warning system for the presence of the disease. Sentinel plots are planted two to three weeks earlier than commercial fields. If ASR is found in a sentinel plot, this is a signal to scout surrounding fields. The growth difference in sentinel and commercial fields allows growers and farm advisors time to make decisions. If conditions are optimal for the rapid spread of ASR (warm and humid), the solution is treatment with fungicides.

“Soybeans and wheat made an awesome economic combination for growers in the Southeast this year, creating plenty of optimism for profits from this year’s beans and optimism for planting more of the crop in 2013.

Even the earliest appearance on record of Asian Soybean Rust did little to slow down what is shaping up to be one of the best soybean crops on record in some parts of the Upper Southeast.

Rust was detected along a southern tier of North Carolina counties on Sept. 12, but Mother Nature, a well-coordinated system of sentinel plots, and timely actions by growers stopped rust in its tracks.

Though the disease was documented on Sept. 12, in North Carolina, the earliest on record by three days, it appears there will be little damage to the state’s 1.65 million acre soybean crop.

Duplin County, N.C., Extension Agent Curtis Fountain says once the disease was detected in counties less than 100 miles from his county, growers quickly reacted and applied fungicides when needed.

North Carolina State University Plant Pathologist Steve Koenning and Soybean Specialist Jim Dunphy issued timely updates on movement of the disease and provided virtually day-to-day observations on when and what to spray to best manage ASR.”

Author: Roberson, R.
Affiliation: Farm Press, Editorial Staff
Title: Rapid Grower Response, Weather Stop Early Soybean Rust Outbreak
Publication: Southeast Farm Press, December 5, 2012.

Numerous Fungicide Sprays Needed in Brazil to Prevent Tomatoes and Potatoes from Rotting

Late Blight Tomatoes

Late Blight Tomatoes

The late blight fungus infects both tomatoes and potatoes. The fungus attacks all the aboveground parts of the plant. Infected foliage becomes brown, shrivels, and soon dies. When severe, all the plants in a field may be killed in a week. On tomato fruit, greenish brown greasy spots develop and can cover the entire tomato. Decaying vines can be identified by a foul odor. Environmental conditions in Brazil are ideal for the development of the disease.

“Tomato and potato are the most important vegetable crops in Brazil. During 2002, production of tomato and potato in Brazil totaled 3.6 and 3.1 million tons, respectively. The major producing areas are the south and southeast regions, in which 57.2% of the tomato and 92.3% of the potato are produced. Late blight, caused by Phytophthora infestans, occurs in both regions and is the most serious foliar disease of these crops. The environmental conditions in these regions also are highly favorable to late blight development, leading to severe crop losses if no control measures are adopted.”

“Due to favorable environmental conditions and high susceptibility to late blight, up to 20 and 15 fungicide sprays commonly are used in tomato and potato crops, respectively.”

Authors: A. Reis, F.H.S. Ribeiro, L.A. Maffia and E.S.G. Mizubuti
Affiliation: Departamento de Fitopatologia, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa-MG, Brazil
Title: Sensitivity of Brazilian isolates of Phytophthora infestans to commonly used fungicides in tomato and potato crops.
Publication: Plant Disease. 2005. 89(12):1279-1284.

Fungicides Save Brazil’s Coffee Crop

Coffee leaf rust is considered one of the most catastrophic plant diseases of all time. In the 1860s, coffee rust was largely responsible for destroying the coffee plantations of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), which had been the greatest coffee-producing country in the world. As coffee rust spread through Asia and Africa, coffee production increased significantly in Latin America where coffee rust was not present. However, coffee rust was detected in Brazil in 1970 and has since spread throughout Latin America, making fungicide use essential.

“In susceptible cultivars, chemical control has been the only option for decreasing the incidence of CLR on plants, and for reducing the harmful effects on the disease. The coffee growing regions in Brazil as well as almost all other coffee-producing regions worldwide are comprised of susceptible Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora cultivars (the latter is the second most widely cultivated coffee species). Preventive control of CLR in the main Brazilian coffee-producing regions consists from four to six applications of protective copper-based fungicides and two to three foliar applications of systemic fungicides.”

Authors: A. Fernando de Souza, L. Zambolim, V. Cintra de Jesus Jr., P.R. Cecon.
Affiliation: Federal University of Vicosa, Minas Gerais State, Brazil
Title: Chemical approaches to manage coffee leaf rust in drip irrigated trees
Publication: Australasian Plant Pathology. 2011. 40:293-300.