Top minds tackle tough crop issue

Author: | Date: 30 Oct 2012

Close up of a grain crop

The top minds in crown rot research from around the world gathered in Narrabri, NSW recently to nut out on solutions for controlling the costly disease.

About 50 scientists from across Australia and countries including the USA, China, Morocco, Turkey, Mexico and Iran attended the First International Crown Rot Workshop for Wheat Improvement supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Crown rot is a leading cause of yield loss in the grains region from Dubbo, NSW to southern Queensland and GRDC northern panel chair, James Clark welcomes the concerted focus.

“As an industry we are doing everything we can to get on top of the issue,” Mr Clark said.

“The leading scientists from around the world in this arena are putting their minds to working out how we can go forward and achieve the ultimate aim of crown rot-tolerant cereal varieties that will yield in the presence of crown rot.”

He said crown rot continues to be one of the major diseases impacting the Australian grains industry with current estimated costs in wheat and barley at $97 million annually.

“There has been significant investment in crown rot research with GRDC investment of more than $2.5 million per annum in pre-breeding, epidemiology, farming systems and pathology projects.”

He says crown rot is the only necrotrophic (where a parasite kills its host) disease to have increased yield losses in Australia in the last 10 years. Potential annual yield loss from crown rot in wheat increased by 9.2 per cent to 22.2c from 1998 to 2008.

However, the Murray/Brennan report, The Current and Potential Costs from Diseases of Wheat in Australia, commissioned by GRDC, shows controlling crown rot through best management practices benefits the Australian grain industry to the tune of $355 million each year.

In the northern region, controlling crown rot yields a $69.58/ha benefit to industry.

Mr Clark says since 2008 GRDC has invested in strategies to accelerate breeding for crown rot resistance and is focused on management and agronomic strategies to underpin the potential development of improved resistant varieties.

For more information on GRDC-supported research, visit


PHOTO CAPTION: The damaging disease crown rot was under scrutiny at a recent gathering at PBI, Narrabri, NSW.

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For interviews:

James Clark, GRDC Northern Panel Chair
0427 545 212


Rachel Bowman, Cox Inall Communications
0412 290 673

Region North