Since the initial reports of leaf rust in Kansas in November, I have been gathering more information about the status of this disease in the state. Leaf rust was observed in 18 counties in Kansas this fall, with severe infections noted in the western counties bordering Colorado (Figure 1). The disease was also reported at low levels in central Kansas. The disease was not observed in most areas we checked in eastern Kansas.
Fall infections of leaf rust are common in Kansas and in most years harsh winter weather will dramatically reduce the leaf rust population. In approximately 30% of the years, however, leaf rust will survive the winter in the Kansas, resulting in an elevated risk of severe disease the following spring. Growers in areas of the state known to have leaf rust should be monitoring the status of disease carefully this spring.
Erick De Wolf, Extension Plant Pathologist