Wet spring sparks ce­real dis­ease warn­ing

Shepparton News - Country News - - SEYMOUR ALTERNATIVE FARMING EXPO 2017 -

Ce­real grow­ers are be­ing warned to act now to counter the high dis­ease risks fol­low­ing last year’s wet spring.

As the sow­ing sea­son ap­proaches, crop­pers face greater dis­ease loads on their heavy stub­bles and from crop re­growth after sum­mer storms.

Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria’s se­nior plant pathol­o­gist Grant Holl­away urged grow­ers to con­trol sum­mer weeds and vol­un­teer crops and choose their va­ri­eties care­fully for the com­ing sea­son to re­duce the dis­ease threat.

Dr Holl­away said many ce­real dis­eases should be watched out for this sea­son.

‘‘Dis­ease pres­sures in Vic­to­ria’s 2016 ce­real crops were high dur­ing the wettest spring in 25 years,’’ he said.

‘‘Yel­low leaf spot in wheat, which favours damp con­di­tions, was wide­spread and se­vere, with 20 per cent losses in sus­cep­ti­ble va­ri­ety tri­als. Re­sis­tant va­ri­eties re­ported less than six per cent losses.’’

Sim­i­lar losses were recorded from spot form of net blotch in bar­ley.

Dr Holl­away said rusts were preva­lent in wheat, although de­vel­op­ment was slowed by the cooler spring.

‘‘Ce­real dis­eases will need ac­tive man­age­ment this sea­son fol­low­ing carry-over of high lev­els of in­ocu­lum on stub­ble and the green bridge after last year’s wet con­di­tions,’’ he said. He urged grow­ers to con­sider: ■ Va­ri­ety choice (con­sult a cur­rent dis­ease guide).

■ Pad­dock se­lec­tion (con­sider pad­dock his­tory and take a soil test if un­sure about root dis­ease risk).

■ The green bridge (rust carry over on ce­real vol­un­teers).

■ Putting in place a fungi­cide plan for the con­trol of po­ten­tial dis­ease threats.

Dr Holl­away said sep­to­ria had con­tin­ued to be im­por­tant in high rain­fall zones, with sur­veys last year show­ing it was now also present at low lev­els in the Wim­mera.

‘‘A PreDicta B test prior to plant­ing will iden­tify pad­docks at risk to en­able ap­pro­pri­ate man­age­ment to be im­ple­mented,’’ Dr Holl­away said.

He also en­cour­aged grow­ers to man­age the risks for bunts and smuts.

‘‘Seed should be treated ev­ery year as bunt and smut can in­crease rapidly, re­sult­ing in un­saleable grain.’’ ■ The an­nual Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria Ce­real Dis­ease Guide will be launched at the GRDC ad­vis­ers’ up­date at Bendigo later this month.

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