Alabama officials reported finding soybean rust on kudzu in Baldwin and Mobile counties Feb. 15 while scouting for new and/or old growth and soybean rust in 40 kudzu patches. In Georgia, officials destroyed the infected kudzu in Grady and Thomas counties.

The two counties border Mobile Bay in far southwest Alabama, making Mobile County the western-most soybean rust find in 2006.

Added to the first find of the year in Montgomery County, there are now three positive counties in Alabama. The U.S. total of counties where soybean rust has been confirmed this year is 16, although Georgia just turned Thomas and Grady counties back to "green" for no rust after removing/destroying the plants/leaves that were found to be infected with soybean rust on Jan. 30 and Feb. 10.

Here's yesterday's Alabama state commentary from Ed Sikora, professor and Extension plant pathologist at Auburn University:

"More 40 kudzu patches were scouted for new and/or old growth and soybean rust in Mobile and Baldwin Counties on February 15. In Mobile County, one small soybean rust-infected kudzu patch was found growing in front of a small business in the town of Chickasaw, which is part of the Mobile metropolitan area. This was the only patch found in Mobile County.

"I revisited two kudzu patches north of Mobile in the country that were infected with rust and still were retaining green tissue back in late December. Both patches were completely dormant at this time," Sikora said.

"Small clumps of soybean rust-infected kudzu leaves were found in two locations in Baldwin County in the town of Daphne. One clump was found in a homeowner's backyard in a protected area on the south side of an evergreen tree. There were more green kudzu leaves about 25 feet above my head, hanging from another tree in this yard," he said.

"About 150 yards from this site, we also found two small clumps of green kudzu leaves along the south side of a windbreak in a Pizza Hut parking lot. One patch was at knee height and was infected with rust. The other clump was wrapped around a tree about 25 ft above the ground.

"We also scouted around various neighborhoods in the area, looked under numerous bridges and culverts, and walked fields that held soybeans last year. No green kudzu or volunteer soybeans were found. The positive clumps/patches of rust were on old kudzu tissue. I did not see any kudzu breaking dormancy in this part of Alabama," Sikora said.

He said the three kudzu patches that were still green in late January in Montgomery County will be examined this week to see how they held up to the recent cold temperatures in the area.

Rust-infected kudzu destroyed in Georgia

On Feb. 17, Layla Sconyers with the department of plant pathology at Auburn University, reported that plant pathologist Bob Kemerait returned to south Georgia that day and removed/destroyed the plants/leaves that were found to be infected with soybean rust on Jan. 30 and Feb. 10 in Grady and Thomas Counties.

"To our knowledge, these were the only two rust-positive (on green tissue) sites, and they were removed today," Sconyers said. "In addition, Bob examined 4 more kudzu sites in Grady and Thomas Counties today, and all were dead -- no greening tissue."

As a result of the plant removal, the two counties were turned back to green on the National Commentary map and as of Feb. 17 were not being tallied as part of the U.S. total in the USDA commentary at

On Feb. 14, Georgia officials reported that the rust and green tissue in patches where rust was observed on in Grady and Thomas Counties survived recent cold temperatures, including the reported 25 degrees F. that morning.