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Brazil Soybean Disease Cases Drop to Record Low on Dry Weather

Soybean Asian rust cases in Brazil, the world’s second-largest producer after the U.S., declined to the lowest on record as dry weather inhibits the spread of the fungal disease.

Soybean farmers reported 16 cases of the disease last year, down from 65 a year earlier, said Rafael Moreira Soares, an agronomist at the government’s agricultural research agency, known as Embrapa. It’s the lowest incidence since records began in 2004, according to information on Embrapa’s website.

“Dryness caused by the La Nina weather pattern inhibited the spread of the fungus,” Soares said in a telephone interview from Londrina, Brazil. “It looks like in this season we will have the lowest infection rate on record.”

Asian rust, caused by the Phakopsora pachyrhizi fungus, was first spotted in Brazil in 2001 and has led to crop losses worth $3.6 billion since then, according to Embrapa. The disease, which needs humidity to spread, reduces the number of pods per plant, paring output. It also causes defoliation.

Brazil will harvest a record 75.6 million metric tons of soybeans this year, up from 74.9 million tons last year, crop researcher Celeres said yesterday. Planting ended last month, while most harvesting runs from February to May.

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