Disease R&D puts brakes on pulse and oilseed crop losses

Author: | Date: 27 Jun 2012

Canola crop

Disease R&D puts brakes on pulse and oilseed crop losses

Diseases in Australian pulse and oilseed crops are inflicting production losses of more than $210 million a year – but the economic impact would be far worse if current controls were not in place.

Grains Research and Development Corporation-commissioned reports indicate breeding programs for blackleg management in canola alone are saving growers $123.6m annually in potential losses, with cultural practices and fungicides preventing further losses of $63.8m and $67.2m respectively.

The GRDC reports by Gordon M Murray and John P Brennan also state that breeding programs for Ascochyta blight management in chickpeas are preventing potential additional losses of $15.7m annually, while cultural practices and fungicides save the industry $6.9m and $12.4m respectively in Ascochyta losses each year.

The current loss from diseases in oilseeds averages $137 million per year, or 27.6 per cent of the gross value of oilseed production, while pulse diseases are responsible for annual losses averaging $74 million per year, or 14.8 per cent of the gross value of Australian pulse production.

Production losses due to diseases caused by fungi, nematodes, bacteria, viruses and phytoplasmas would be far higher without current controls such as the use of resistant varieties, crop rotation, paddock management and the use of pesticides, according to the reports.

The GRDC is funding much of the research into these diseases and the development of control measures.

GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair David Shannon says the reports will assist the corporation in the ongoing allocation of resources for disease control in oilseeds and pulses which are significant crops in the southern cropping region (comprising Victoria, South Australia, southern New South Wales and Tasmania).

“The southern region produces around half of the nation’s oilseed and pulse crops, which are an important source of income for growers, so it is critical that disease-related production losses are kept to a minimum,” Mr Shannon said.

According to the reports, for the five years ending 2008-09, the average gross value of national oilseed production was $552 million per year from an average area of 1.3 million hectares. The southern region’s average planting during that period was 652,000ha per year, valued at $217 million.

For the five years ending 2008-09, the average gross value of Australian pulse production was $503 million per year from an average area of 1.5 million hectares. Production in the southern region was 786,000ha annually, worth $249 million.

Mr Shannon said it was encouraging to know that current means of control were preventing more considerable losses.

“For instance, the report into oilseed disease losses shows that the magnitude of potential losses caused by blackleg in canola alone – without current control measures in place – would be $287.23/ha or $331.3m nationally.

“Currently, blackleg causes losses of $66.44/ha or $76.6 million in total. It is the major disease of canola in the southern region, which grows more than half of the nation’s canola crop,” Mr Shannon said.

“The reports demonstrate that our industries must take disease control very seriously and that we cannot afford to be complacent with implementation of prevention and management strategies.”

The oilseed crops included in the studies were canola, soybeans and sunflowers, while the pulse crops included were narrowleaf and albus lupins, field peas, chickpeas, faba beans, lentils, vetch, peanuts and mungbeans.

The GRDC has previously commissioned assessments of the disease losses to the
Australian wheat industry (average $913 million per year or 19.5 per cent of the value of production) and to the barley industry ($252 million per year or 19.6 per cent of the value of production).

The two new reports are titled The Current and Potential Costs from Diseases of Oilseed Crops in Australia and The Current and Potential Costs from Diseases of Pulse Crops in Australia.

They are available for viewing and downloading via www.grdc.com.au/GRDC-Report-PulseDiseaseCosts  and www.grdc.com.au/GRDC-Report-OilseedDiseaseCosts. Free copies can also be ordered via GRDC’s Ground Cover Direct, free phone 1800 11 00 44 or email ground-cover-direct@canprint.com.au.

ENDS

Caption: The GRDC report into oilseed disease losses shows that the magnitude of potential losses caused by blackleg in canola alone – without current control measures in place – would be $287.23/ha or $331.3m nationally.

GRDC Project Code: CER00002

Media releases and other media products can be found at www.grdc.com.au/media


For more information: GRDC Southern Regional Panel chair, David Shannon
Phone 0419 830700


Contact: Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675100

GRDC Project Code CER00002