Diagnostic testing helps Queensland deal with crop disease

Author: Sarah Jeffrey | Date: 31 Oct 2016

Queensland grain growers can keep ahead of the game on disease management in the lead up to harvest through regular crop surveillance and submitting suspect plant samples for diagnostic testing.

With some areas of the state benefitting from autumn and early spring rain, growers with viable crops are well aware that vigilant disease management will be key to maximising yield in cereal and pulse crops.

While routine crop monitoring throughout the successive stages of crop growth is vital for disease detection, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is also urging growers to take samples of suspect plants and send them to the relevant authorities for testing.

Correct diagnosis of a disease is critical if growers are to implement an effective and appropriate control program that delivers a worthwhile return on investment.

Diseases on the `watch list’ in cereal crops this season include stripe, leaf and stem rust. Rust remains a priority investment for the GRDC which for more than 10 years has funded landmark rust research and development projects such as the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program (ACRCP).

Rusted plant samples should be mailed in paper envelopes, not plastic wrapping or plastic-lined packages, to Australian Cereal Rust Survey Plant Breeding Institute, Private Bag 4011, Narellan, NSW, 2567.

A variety of information on the identification of wheat rusts and management strategies can be found on the GRDC-supported Rust Bust website and Rust Bust can also be followed on Twitter at @the_rustbust.

The identification of other fungal cereal diseases such as yellow leaf spot (tan spot), net blotches, scald and septoria tritici blotch can provide valuable information to help with crop rotation planning, variety and paddock selection for subsequent seasons. It also provides invaluable information for GRDC’s crop disease surveillance programs to stay in-front of changes in pathogens to guide breeding efforts and the potential development of fungicide resistance.

Additionally, any winter cereal crops (wheat, durum or barley) which are showing signs of disease in heads should be sampled and sent away for testing.

Cereal disease diagnosis can be obtained by sending an infected tissue/plant sample in paper packaging – paper bags, envelopes or wrapped in newspaper – to Dr Steven Simpfendorfer, NSW DPI, 4 Marsden Park Rd, Tamworth NSW 2340; email, 0439 581 672 or University of Southern Queensland (USQ) plant pathologist Dr Dante Adorada, Centre for Crop Health, USQ, West St, Toowoomba Qld 4350; email, 07 4631 1262.

Alternatively samples can be sent to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Plant Pest Diagnostic Service, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 203 Tor Street, Toowoomba QLD 4350.

Most samples can be sent to the main address, however specialists for some crops are based in different locations and therefore, it is recommended to contact the Customer Service Centre on 132523 prior to sending a sample to avoid delays. For further information, including sample packaging tips and a copy of the sample submission form email, or call the Customer Service Centre on 132523.

Disease identification and management has been high on the priority list for Queensland pulse growers in recent months with high levels of Ascochyta blight, Sclerotinia and Botrytis grey mould (BGM) detected in chickpea crops in the northern grains region during autumn and early spring.

While crops are currently benefiting from the drier, warmer conditions, this could change quickly with the onset of another rain event. Any growers wanting further information on chickpea disease identification and management should contact senior crop pathologist Dr Kevin Moore on 0488 251 866 or 02 6763 1100, fax 02 6763 1222 or email, or visit the GRDC-supported eXtension AUS website. If infection is suspected, growers should wrap the plant material in newspaper and send to Dr Moore NSW DPI, 4 Marsden Park Rd, Calala NSW 2340.

Contact Details 

For Interviews

Sharon O’Keeffe, GRDC manager grower services, north
0409 279 328


Sarah Jeffrey, Senior Consultant Cox Inall Communications
0418 152 859

Region North