Recent alarming outbreaks of cereal leaf and stem rust in WA prompted a $36,500 grant from growers through the GRDC to assist AGWEST's efforts to publicise and treat the problem.
The extra funding supplements existing project funding to combat crop disease in WA.
Project supervisor, AGWEST Senior Plant Pathologist Rob Loughman, said the main risk, leaf rust, could reduce yields of susceptible varieties by 30 per cent. Stem rust also presented a major risk in some areas and could drop yields by 50-80 per cent.
Following the first report in June of leaf rust in early-sown Stiletto wheat crops in the Hyden-Varley area, subsequent reports have been received from Bodallin, Corrigin, Bencubbin, Dandaragan, Konnongorring, Quairading and Pingaring.
AGWEST Crop Disease Development Officer based at Moora, Rob Dickie, urged growers to monitor their crops for rust and other diseases.
"In particular, they should check all volunteer wheat crops which are in head and, if they suspect signs of rust, they should immediately submit plant samples to AGWEST plant pathology for analysis."
Unseasonal heavy summer rains in many parts of the wheatbelt permitted volunteer hosts to develop, with autumn rains contributing to rust build-up.
Mr Dickie warned that this scenario, coupled with rust carryover from 1998 and spring rains this year, could cause a very costly rust epidemic.
He suggested growers regularly monitor crops. Varieties susceptible to leaf rust include Ajana, Amery, BT-Schomburgk, Cascades, Corrigin, Eradu, Spear, Stiletto and Tincurrin.
Amery, Corrigin, Halberd, Spear, Tincurrin and Cadoux are susceptible to stem rust.
AGWEST's Farmnote: Managing Leaf and Stem Rust of Wheat can advise growers and there is also a technical bulletin for consultants and advisers.
According to AGWEST's Farmnote, the degree and duration of rust control achieved by spraying a foliar fungicide depends on the application rate, with poor control likely at below recommended label rates, particularly when disease levels are high. The AGWEST Farmnote lists fungicides registered for wheat leaf diseases in WA.
Control is more effective if fungicide is applied early in the disease's development.
To check symptoms, growers are also encouraged to consult the Wheat Rust Back Pocket Guide. This was distributed to all WA growers with Ground Cover in July followed by a very well-received satellite broadcast featuring the latest crop disease updates produced with CRT stores.
Contact: Mr Rob Loughman 08 9368 3691