Changing nature of rhizoctonia under workshop microscope

Author: | Date: 24 Jul 2019

image of Alan McKay
Alan McKay says while progress has been made to reduce the impact of rhizoctonia, it is still costing the industry significant dollars in low to medium rainfall areas with lighter textured soils. Photo: AgCommunicators

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is hosting a series of workshops in South Australia and Victoria to bring growers and advisers up to date with the latest knowledge on the costly root disease rhizoctonia.

The workshops will be held in-paddock and will provide a summary of new knowledge on rhizoctonia developed over the past 10 years, including the various symptoms, identification, changes to the expression of the disease in modern farming systems, seasonal factors affecting yield loss, sowing strategies, nutrition and management.

Plants will be dug up and their roots will be washed and examined for the different symptoms produced by rhizoctonia. A group discussion will cover regional characteristics, current best practice management and knowledge gaps.

The workshops will be delivered by South Australian Research and Development Institute’s (SARDI) soil biology and molecular diagnostics leader Alan McKay and senior research officer Blake Gontar, and CSIRO Agriculture and Food principal research scientist Gupta Vadakattu.

Dr McKay says while progress has been made to reduce the impact of rhizoctonia, it is still costing the industry significant dollars in low to medium rainfall areas with lighter textured soils.

“While there’s still scope for improvements in the management of rhizoctonia, there are steps growers can take both pre-sowing and within season to reduce the impact,” Dr McKay said.

“The first step is to make sure growers know which crops are still being affected, so we are keen to showcase what to look for and discuss current management options to help reduce yield losses.”

Dr McKay said there was a significant amount of rhizoctonia present this year.

“The dry spring last year and the dry summer have set up a situation for rhizoctonia to be a problem; with the later breaks in some areas we’re starting to see rhizoctonia affect crops now,” he said.

When crops are sown early, infection is often delayed until mid-July and can be limited to the crown roots, resulting in uneven crop growth to develop mid-season.

At the workshops, farming systems groups (Eyre Peninsula Agricultural Research Foundation, Mallee Sustainable Farming and Birchip Cropping Group) will team with local agronomists to give a regional update on rhizoctonia and explore local management options.

“Workshops will have a regional agronomist in attendance so participants can gain a local perspective and ideas for ongoing management considering their nutrition and disease management,” Dr McKay said.

Growers and advisers can register online at: https://tickets.agcommunicators.com.au/agc/Rhizo19. Enquiries can be directed to Loren Revell-Karutz via 0410 548 454 or loren@agcommunicators.com.au.

Workshop schedule:

  • 29 July – Cowell, SA, 1:30pm-4pm
  • 30 July – Ceduna, SA, 2pm-4:30pm
  • 7 August – Charlton, Vic, 9am-11:30am
  • 7 August – Ouyen, Vic, 2:30pm-5pm
  • 8 August – Pinnaroo, SA, 9am-11:30am
  • 8 August – Peake, SA, 2pm-4:30pm

These workshops are an initiative of the GRDC investment, ‘Increasing regional capacity in identification of crown root infection of rhizoctonia in the low rainfall zone of the southern region’.

Project partners are Primary Industries and Regions SA through its research division SARDI, Mallee Sustainable Farming, Birchip Cropping Group, Eyre Peninsula Agricultural Research Foundation and AgCommunicators.

More information on rhizoctonia can be found:

Contact Details

Media Enquiries

Belinda Cay, AgCommunicators
0423 295 576

Contact

Sharon Watt, GRDC
0409 675 100
sharon.watt@grdc.com.au

GRDC Project code: DAS1905-012SAX