Experts assess rust outlook for 2014

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More than 50 rust research specialists gathered at CSIRO’s Black Mountain Laboratory in Canberra in March 2014 as part of the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program (ACRCP) annual consultative committee’s meeting to discuss rust genetics, breeding strategies, variety selection and research outputs for 2014.

The researchers present were unanimous in their belief that growing resistant varieties remains the front-line defence to reduce the risks of rust infection.

ACRCP consultative committee chair Dr Grant Hollaway said at the meeting that while the chance of a severe rust outbreak in 2014 was low, growers should not be complacent.

“The cool, dry autumn of 2013 helped suppress rust development and, combined with a hot and dry summer in 2014, minimised the green bridge and subsequent inoculum load,” he said.

“Despite this prediction, all researchers agreed that growers should always sow resistant (R) varieties. For growers who choose to plant susceptible (S) and very susceptible (VS) varieties, it is essential to develop a rust-management plan, which outlines immediate actions that should be taken if there is an outbreak,” Dr Hollaway said.

Recent research by cereal pathologist Greg Platz, from the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, demonstrated the value of selecting appropriate varieties.

Mr Platz found that for VS barley in Queensland last year, there were yield penalties of up to $400 per hectare because of leaf rust. In comparison, there was no yield loss in the resistant varieties grown.

“This clearly demonstrates the need for growers to make careful variety selections,” Mr Platz said. “If growers plant S and VS varieties, crops should be monitored every 10 to 14 days after GS32. Growers must be prepared to spray immediately, noting appropriate maximum residue levels and withholding periods.”

The ACRCP meeting elected a new consultative committee chair, Dr Daniel Mullan, based with Intergrain in Western Australia, and secretary, Dr Andrew Milgate, from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Wagga Wagga.
Dr Hollaway retired after three years as chair and two years as secretary.

Dr Hollaway believed his greatest achievement through the ACRCP was establishing a standardised variety disease rating system of cereals and the implementation of the Rust Bust campaign.

The ACRCP was established in 1973 and is mostly funded by growers through the GRDC.

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Dr Grant Hollaway

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