Pre-sowing assessment of crown rot inoculum levels in paddocks is critical if growers and consultants are to avoid “flying blind” on agronomic management and maximise winter crop production potential.
Penagcon consulting agronomist James Miller, Bellata, regularly uses testing facilities to evaluate diseases such as crown rot and soil borne pathogens like root lesion nematodes (RLN) to assist clients in crop planning and rotation management.
He said baseline knowledge of pathogens in farming paddocks had a valuable role to play in the long term management and preservation of profitable farming systems.
“Following below average summer rainfall for 2013-14 we undertook a Crown Analytical Stubble test for one of our clients near Edgeroi leading into the dry 2014 winter crop season as well as a PreDicta B test to assess Crown rot and nematode levels,” Mr Miller said.
“Testing proved invaluable as results indicated higher than anticipated levels of crown rot severity and inoculum, with lower levels of Pratylenchus nematode species, thornei and neglectus.
“Following these results some necessary rotational adjustments to the farm program were made including selecting canola to assist in stubble degradation and the selection of a more crown rot tolerant wheat cultivar, Impala.
“This allowed us to get the paddocks back into rotation and minimize the risk of failure due to poor crop and varietal choice.”
He said yields in the property’s canola crop were reasonable considering it was hampered by an unpredicted late and severe frost and a very dry warm finish, while the Impala performed exceptionally well for a dry season-particularly in light of the known crown rot inoculum levels.
“Without the knowledge gained from testing we would have been flying blind with our agronomic decisions and management, and probably would have had a blow out in yield loss because of the dry year,” Mr Miller said.
“This would have led to higher crown rot and nematode levels that would have impeded our rotations for many seasons to come.”
Caption: Penagcon consulting agronomist James Miller, Bellata.
Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications