Agriculture Victoria research scientists Frank Henry and Dr Mohammad Aftab are conducting a pilot study across the high-rainfall zone of south-western Victoria to determine the presence of beet western yellows virus (BWYV).
They are looking for the virus in the ‘green bridge’ and how it might affect emerging new-season crops. BWYV can be a devastating disease, affecting canola and pulse production.
Depending on crop type and time of infection, this aphid-transmitted virus can substantially reduce crop yield and quality.
“As part of a pilot survey, samples were collected from 11 2015 spring-sown winter canola crops during April and May 2016,” Mr Henry says.
“The samples were tested for BWYV in the laboratory at Agriculture Victoria Horsham. During the survey, the crops were also inspected for the presence of aphids.
“Although turnip aphids were found on six of the 11 crops, no green peach aphids were found in any of the crops surveyed.”
Mr Henry says this is good news because the green peach aphid is the main transmitter of the virus, while the turnip aphid is less relevant.
“As a result of the survey, we don’t expect aphids from 2015 spring-sown winter canola crops to spread the virus into the coming season’s canola crops.” Nonetheless, agronomists and farmers are advised to monitor crops regularly for aphids, as aphids can travel hundreds of kilometres on the wind.
Mr Henry and Dr Aftab will continue monitoring aphid flights using sticky traps.
Mr Henry says farmers and agronomists will be advised when aphid flights occur.
“Seed treated with neonicotinoid insecticides will provide four to five weeks’ protection against aphids after sowing.”
The Regional Research Agronomist and Virology programs are funded by the Victorian Government and the GRDC as part of their five-year bilateral research agreement.
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