Bringing in the wild radish agent

THE SEARCH for a biological answer to Australia's persistent wild radish problems recently went offshore with fieldwork and trials focusing on the Mediterranean.

Based on a comparison of climate and soils between Australia and various areas of the Mediterranean, the CSIRO has targeted wild radish fieldwork at sites in Greece, Tunisia, Portugal and southern France, according to Officer in Charge of CSIRO's European Laboratory, John Scott.

"It is still early days, but we are making good progress in surveying potential wild radish bio-control agents at these sites and collecting promising insect and fungi," Dr Scott says.

"So far we have identified over 30 species of insect and up to 10 species of pathogen for wild radish. We are now rearing or developing these species to a stage where we can assess their potential for biological control."

This new project builds on preliminary work on wild radish carried out by the CSIRO and the CRC Weed Management Systems.

The researchers are completing the list of plant species to be tested for susceptibility to biological control agents and getting in the seeds needed for the testing program. Canola and commercial radish need particular care to assess the safety and plant host range of any potential biological control agent.

Wild radish is still the curse of many winter growers inflicting yield losses of up to 20 per cent, reducing grain quality, inhibiting germination and killing grain.

Program 3.3.3 Contact: Dr John Scott +33 4 6759 3109

Region North, South, West