The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is encouraging Central Queensland chickpea growers to adhere to revised recommendations for ascochyta blight management this winter as a means of maximising crop yield potential and profitability.
Pulse Australia’s national development manager Gordon Cumming said the revised strategy focussed on three key areas – diligent farm hygiene practices, the use of locally-sourced commercial quality assured seed, and having an alternative seed sourcing plan if local supplies are unavailable.
Although ascochyta blight has been present in Central Queensland for the past six years, Mr Cumming said the incidence and severity had remained low due to dry winters and the concerted management efforts by growers and advisors.
Nevertheless, distribution of the disease is wide with cases being recorded in all of the main growing regions except the Callide Valley. Mr Cumming said on-going effective management was critical if growers were to avoid costly yield losses in the future.
“The most significant risk to the introduction and spread of ascochyta blight to a farm is through the introduction of infect chickpea crop residues and therefore maintaining strict farm hygiene remains the primary line of defence,” Mr Cumming said.
“This means ensuring that all machinery, and particularly harvesters, are clean prior to entry, as well as people and animals where possible.
“Growers also need to be mindful of flood waters as they can carry infected crop residues for considerable distances.”
While the risk of seed transmission of ascochyta blight is remote, Mr Cumming urged growers to actively minimise this risk by purchasing commercial quality assured seed that has been produced in Central Queensland.
“Only purchase seed from a recognised commercial seed supplier. If no suitable Central Queensland-produced seed is available, then the last resort is to purchase seed from a recognised commercial seed supplier in southern Queensland. But it must be treated with a thiram based fungicide seed dressing,” Mr Cumming said.
“Growers need to be aware however that there is a yield reduction between Kyabra (8%) and PBA HatTrick (12%) in the central Queensland environment.
“Wherever possible, central Queensland growers are better off sticking with those varieties that have been released for the Central Queensland market such as Kyabra, PBA Pistol and Moti.”
The revised management strategy has been developed by Pulse Australia in conjunction with key industry stake holders, including the USQ/Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) pulse pathology team.
Ascochyta blight is caused by the fungus Phoma rabiei and is a serious disease of chickpeas in Australia. It can infect all above ground parts of the plant and is most prevalent in areas where cool, cloudy and humid weather occurs during the crop season.
Implications for the disease’s future development and management in the northern growing region were discussed at the recent GRDC Grain Research Update at Goondiwindi. A copy of the presentation can be found here.
Gordon Cumming, National Development Manager
0408 923 474
Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications
Caption: Pulse Australia’s national development manager Gordon Cumming.