Rather than to rely on the efforts of historians of the future, this paper will record the devastating oat rust epidemic that occurred in Iowa in 1953. Pertinent facts regarding the initiation, development, geographic distribution, and final loss estimates due to oat crown rust and stem rust will be presented. Attempts will be made to correlate rust spread and development with available meteorological data. · Rusts have attacked cereals for all of recorded history. Some of the oldest rust records are to be found in the Bible where Hebrew writers frequently mention rusts, smuts, and blights on their grain crops. Of course, the true cause of rusts was unknown but the ancients regarded these diseases as acts of God and punishment for misdeeds. Aristotle and later Theophrastus (370-286 B.C.) wrote of the rusts of cereals as well as of diseases of other crops. The· Romans for many years paid sacrificial tribute on April 25 each year to a rust god, Rubigus, for protection against rust damage in their fields. Persoon in 1797 was the first to incriminate a fungus organism as the causal agent of rust but it was left to Anton deBary (2) in 1853 to describe the true nature and the various spore forms of the cereal rusts.
Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science
©1954 Iowa Academy of Science, Inc.
Sherf, Arden F.
"The 1953 Crown and Stem Rust Epidemic of Oats in Iowa,"
Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science, 61(1), 161-169.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/pias/vol61/iss1/19