GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Syngenta Crop Protection has released its analysis of data from test plots that were some of the few with naturally occurring soybean rust in the United States in 2005.

It also has announced the 2006 launch of a more coordinated system of working with top university researchers who specialize in soybean rust. Both research-related developments will help Syngenta provide growers with the latest, most comprehensive information on how to successfully manage this potentially devastating disease.

Soybean rust infected several isolated Syngenta plots in southern Georgia on July 28, 2005, leading to some of the only data sets based on naturally occurring rust in United States research trials. After careful analysis, Syngenta researchers have found that the Georgia data contests many of the most popular beliefs to date about soybean rust and the environmental factors that influence it, including temperature, humidity and leaf wetness.

"Temperatures of 60 to 85 degrees with a relative humidity of 75 percent to 80 percent have been popularized as the driving factors behind the spread of rust, but some of our new information challenges these ideas," said Marty Wiglesworth, Syngenta technical fungicide brand manager.

Gary Cloud, Syngenta research and development scientist, said temperatures at the Georgia research facility were in the lower- to mid-90s almost every day during the summer, showing that rust can flourish in high temperatures. Cloud also reported that rust thrived in dry conditions in Brazil, as well as in driving rains in Georgia, which contests the thought that rust is most likely to spread when the humidity is between 75 and 80 percent.

A new factor that some researchers believe influences the spread of rust is the leaf-wetness period.

"The leaf wetness period is absolutely critical, and it looks like from work in Brazil and the U.S. that when you have six hours of leaf wetness or greater, you are setting yourself up for rapid development of soybean rust," Cloud said. "This is one factor, up until this year, that has really not been mentioned, but was really evident in our work in Brazil and the U.S."

In 2006, Syngenta will continue to strengthen its coordination with university researchers and further its knowledge about soybean rust in the United States by using a faster, more sophisticated and accurate online tool to manage rust data. The cooperation between Syngenta and university researchers will lead to a clearer picture of soybean rust development in the United States, thus providing the best solutions to one of the newest problems U.S. soybean growers face today.

Syngenta is a world-leading agribusiness committed to sustainable agriculture through innovative research and technology. The company is a leader in crop protection, and ranks third in the high-value commercial seeds market. Sales in 2004 were approximately $7.3 billion. Syngenta employs some 20,000 people in more than 90 countries.

SOURCE: Syngenta.