Soybeans are used for more than just soymilk, this crop impacts the food we eat everyday. This local crop is facing a threat that could have a nationwide impact.
These soybeans in Lowndes County, Georgia are one week away from being harvested.
After they're picked, they'll be processed into food for cows and hogs, which are then sent to your local grocery store.
Bob Kemerait, Plant Pathologist says, “If we have problems with the Soybean Crop then that raises food prices, not only for soybean products but also for meat, poultry, things like that."
Bob Kemerait is hunting for a predator.
He’s a plant pathologist, and his microscopic enemy is claiming soybean crops across the Southeast- it's called Asian Soybean Rust.
Soybean rust produces these ‘‘pustules’’ or spots on the crop leaves, eventually killing them.
The leaves of the soybean plant provide the proper nutrients the crop needs to grow, but after the disease destroys these leaves, this can spell big trouble for the farmers.
“When these leaves fall off , your’re gonna lose yield,” said Kemerait.
Soybean farmers in South Georgia, North Florida and South Alabama are battling this disease.
Calvin Willis, Lowndes Co. Extension Agent, says, “Our growers have protected themselves for this year, but we have some concerns for next year.”
Across South Georgia, officials have found fields that can face 10 to 50 percent losses for this year’s yield.
But Kemerait continues to hunt. He says if officials learn where the disease is and how its spreading, they can create strategies to reduce the damage this enemy can bring.
Officials urge farmers to use timely treatments of pesticides on their crops to prevent the disease.