Disease prevention better than cure
Conditions are ripe for high levels of crop diseases in Western Australian paddocks this year.
In the central to west Midlands region where I work as an agricultural consultant, I didn’t see much evidence of disease until about mid-June. But as temperatures have dropped, crops have slowed in growth and many have turned a bit yellow.
This is partly due to a lack of nitrogen uptake, but we’re also seeing diseases piggy back on that issue. One of the diseases I’m commonly seeing this year is the barley foliar fungal disease net blotch which has become much more prevalent in recent years.
Growers who used seed-applied fungicides or fungicides applied down the tube at seeding time probably achieved control for a range of diseases for three or four weeks. But in most cases, crops have now run out of any initial protection they may have been given.
When it comes to foliar fungal diseases, I believe that – as for fly strike - prevention is better than cure and appropriate foliar fungicides should be applied at the first sign of infection.
It’s also a good idea for growers to have infected crop samples tested. Details of the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) AGWEST Plant Laboratories testing service are available under ‘tools and services’ at www.agric.wa.gov.au
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) funds a number of projects relevant to WA crop diseases. These investments fall under the GRDC’s ‘protecting your crop’ theme – one of six key GRDC themes identified by growers as priorities.
The biggest of the GRDC’s WA crop disease investments is in the $100 million Centre for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM), based at Curtin University. The CCDM represents the first bilateral research agreement between the GRDC and an Australian university.
It’s doing some excellent work including the new Stop the Spot campaign for yellow spot. The campaign aims to significantly reduce the economic impact of this disease, which can cause crop losses exceeding $30 per hectare.
Growers are encouraged to take part in the campaign and submit samples
so researchers can recover current strains of the fungus, monitor the pathogen and stay on top of any changes, so they are best placed to combat it.
You can find out more about Stop the Spot at www.stopthespot.com.au
Detailed information about GRDC research into crop diseases is available in two recent supplements – Emerging issues with diseases, weeds and pests at www.grdc.com.au/GCS102 and Root and Crown Diseases available in the July-August edition of Ground Cover magazine and at www.grdc.com.au/GCS111
GRDC Project Code CUR00012