Use fungicides strategically in managing cereal diseases

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 11 Jun 2013


Grain growers are being encouraged to think strategically about the use of fungicides this cropping season.

Cereal disease authorities, supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), say fungicides have an important role to play in disease control but they should be seen as just one component of an overall management strategy.

To enhance understanding of cereal diseases and to assist growers with their disease management plans in 2013 and beyond, the GRDC has just released a new Managing Cereal Fungicide Use Fact Sheet for the southern cropping region.

GRDC Plant Health Senior Manager, Dr Rohan Rainbow, says the Fact Sheet provides growers with essential information to help them determine if and when a fungicide is required and how to achieve effective application.

“Understanding foliar fungal diseases of cereals and how to manage them is in the interests of both the grower and the grains industry as a whole,” Dr Rainbow said.

“And while fungicides can be very effective in offering protection from diseases, they must be used judiciously and as part of a multi-faceted management strategy which should also include controlling the green bridge for cereal rusts, attention to the potential risk of stubble-borne leaf disease when deciding on crop rotations, and avoiding susceptible varieties.

“By adopting these practices, we will reduce the reliance on fungicides and the overall amount of disease pressure.”

The Fact Sheet, produced by GRDC in consultation with Australia’s leading cereal disease experts, points out that:

  • Correct identification of the cause of plant symptoms is essential, and an understanding of the growth and spread of any pathogen will assist in any decision making; 
  • Cultivar resistance is the best protection against fungal diseases;
  • It is important to understand the role of the season and have a plan in place, and if growing susceptible varieties have the right chemicals on hand;
  • For cereal rusts and mildew, remove the green bridge between crops;
  • Monitor crops throughout the season;
  • Fungicide resistance is an important issue for powdery mildew control in Western Australia and may develop in other states and other pathogens in the future;
  • In the absence of diseases or any threat of diseases, it is uneconomical and unnecessary to apply fungicides.

Fungicides reduce the growth of pathogens so the plant tissues that provide carbohydrates to the grain are protected from damage. They can be applied to seed, in the furrow or directly onto the leaves and stems as foliar sprays.

The Fact Sheet provides information on identifying and understanding fungal diseases, cereal disease diagnosis, fungicide modes of action, foliar fungicide timing, tips for optimal fungicide efficacy, the economics of using fungicides, fungicide resistance, and stewardship.

Mailed to growers with the latest issue of Ground Cover magazine, the Managing Cereal Fungicide Use Fact Sheet is also available for viewing and downloading via

More information on cereal diseases is available from the GRDC’s resource hub at


For Interviews

Dr Rohan Rainbow, GRDC
02 6166 4500            


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675100


Caption: The new Managing Cereal Fungicide Use GRDC Fact Sheet provides information on identifying and understanding fungal diseases such as rust.

GRDC Project Code CUR0010, CUR00015, CUR00016, DAW00190, DAW00210, GRS10035, ICN00010, UMU00031, DAS00099

Region South, North, West