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Australian Barley Growers Warned to Prepare for Disease Risk

27 February 2012

AUSTRALIA - Barley growers, particularly those in southern high rainfall zones, have been warned to prepare for a high risk of diseases to their crops this growing season.

This is one of the key issues to be discussed at the Department of Agriculture and Food’s Agribusiness Crop Updates 2012, supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

Department plant pathologist Geoff Thomas said the extensive summer rainfall had created a ‘green bridge’ which, if it carries through to seeding times could elevate the risk of the leaf diseases powdery mildew and barley leaf rust.

Powdery mildew was severe in 2011, particularly in the Esperance region, where yield losses of up to 30 per cent (900kg/ha) were recorded in susceptible varieties in department trials funded by GRDC.

Mr Thomas said the identification in recent years of resistance to some triazole (DMI) fungicides in powdery mildew has been a complicating factor for disease management.

“However, growers still have a wide choice of effective fungicide options to manage this disease. Other barley diseases in WA are currently not affected by fungicide resistance.” he said.

Mr Thomas said barley growers, especially those on the South Coast, lower Great Southern, Esperance region and in higher rainfall western areas of the wheatbelt, would need to carefully plan integrated disease management for this year.

“They need to consider the susceptibility of their variety to powdery mildew and other diseases and the application of effective seed dressing and foliar fungicide treatments as the season progresses,” he said.

“The most popular malting barley variety, Baudin, is very susceptible to powdery mildew. However, malt and feed varieties with improved resistance are available to reduce the risk of yield loss associated with powdery mildew and leaf rust.

“To be most effective, all growers, particularly those who choose to grow Baudin, will have to monitor their crops closely from tillering stage and apply fungicide treatments as soon as mildew becomes evident.”

A meeting of representatives from agrichemical company, research organisations and agricultural consultants was held recently to discuss seasonal risk of powdery mildew, outline recent research findings and share information about integrated barley disease management.

Outcomes and extension messages from this meeting will be presented at the Agribusiness Crop Updates.

The department will continue to work with the commercial sector and other research providers to improve integrated barley disease management strategies.

Barley growers can keep up to date with disease risks and management via PestFax, the Barley Variety Guide for WA 2012 and other information published on the department’s website.

TheCropSite News Desk

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