Trials make headway on disease

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

A new mode of Rhizoctonia control is a step closer after the chemical Penflufen was investigated in trials at WANTFA's Cunderdin site.

The disease costs the industry $27 million annually in lost yields and as Bayer technical adviser Rick Horbury said it was continuing to be a problem.

"Obviously, Rhizoctonia being a root disease is an issue for no-till and minimum till farming," Mr Horbury said.

"Those guys are no longer using cultivation and have higher cereals rotations."

The product, which works by inhibiting Succinate Dehydrogenase and cutting off one of the life processes of the disease, was applied to plots of barley inoculated with Rhizoctonia both in furrow and on seed.

Mr Horbury said it was its use in furrows that had growers excited.

"It's certainly exciting compared to the Triazoles that we've been using really heavily over the last couple of decades," he said.

"What we're trying to show in this site is some options for Rhizoctonia control compared to the standard on seed.

"Also, the evolution of looking for a product that's working in furrow, which fits with a lot of growers' programs and an ability to treat seed maybe just for smuts and bunts, but utilise a strong Rhiztoctonia product in particular paddocks and areas where they know it's of a high risk."

Plants in the Cunderdin trial showed reduced spear-tipping in the roots and Mr Horbury said it's also performed well in sites on growers' paddocks.

Fellow Bayer technical adviser Craig White said being able to use the product in furrow as a liquid offered growers increased flexibility.

"With the in-furrow liquids, growers are able to chose the rate and stay on the rate they want," he said.

"Whereas when it's treated fertiliser compound, they're stuck at a fertiliser rate in order to get enough fungicide in the soil.

"With the in-furrow stuff they can dial up exactly what they want.

"In addition, they can select paddocks they want to use it in, without having everything having to be treated and some paddocks that don't need it getting it and others that need more not getting enough."

The product isn't currently on the market, but is likely to be called Evergol and could be registered during the fourth quarter of next year for the 2013 growing season.

"We're progressing into large scale commercial evaluation on growers' properties with growers seeding the product," Mr Horbury said.

"It would certainly be a reasonable number of sites across the states in a variety of scenarios, so we should get commercial return of investment data next year in naturally occurring populations."

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