Lords rule over rhizoctonia

Goomalling grower Ashley Lord with Jeff Lander, of Bayer, and Scott Thomson, of Agserve.
Camera IconGoomalling grower Ashley Lord with Jeff Lander, of Bayer, and Scott Thomson, of Agserve. Credit: Supplied

Watching traditionally bare patches in cropping paddocks come back into solid production would put a smile on the face of most growers, and this has certainly been the case for Ashley Lord at Goomalling this season.

The Lords grow wheat, barley and canola over 10,000 hectares on their Lakeside Farm property, situated about 15 kilometres north of the town.

Rhizoctonia, the State's number one root disease for yield losses - estimated by the Grains Research and Development Corporation to be a $27 million burden to the cereal industry - has proven a headache in select paddocks on the farm.

Mr Lord said the farm had struggled with the disease in the odd paddock with shallow gravel country.

The family has not treated the disease previously, but this season worked closely with local rural business Agserve to coordinate a large-scale trial of the new Bayer seed treatment, EverGol Prime, for rhizoctonia in a susceptible, 130ha paddock sown to Calingiri wheat.

The EverGol Prime treatments included 40ml and 80ml per 100kg of seed covering 100ha, with an untreated strip remaining in the middle of the paddock.

Agserve's Scott Thomson said rhizoctonia had been prevalent throughout the district this year.

"Nearly every paddock we have gone into has got it, so farmers have to think about combating it," he said.

Mr Lord said he agreed with the high level of the disease this season, which he said was aided by the dry June conditions, however he was impressed with the performance of EverGol Prime.

"We usually get a bit of bare patch, but it has filled in well," he said. "The crop is certainly good in the rhizoctonia areas.

"In the bad areas in this paddock (30-40 ha) we have been under 1 tonne per hectare (crop yield), whereas this year the crop is looking like 2.5t/ha in those areas. Visually, it is a big improvement.

"Next year on the suspect paddocks we will go with EverGol (Prime). Crops in these paddocks wouldn't have to get much better for you to get your money back because some areas have been completely bare."

EverGol Prime, from the Group 7 carboxamide group of fungicides, is also setting a high benchmark for smut disease protection, including bunt, in wheat and barley and was also used for Hindmarsh barley production at Lakeside Farm this season.

Mr Lord said the variety, which was replacing Buloke, performed well on the property last year, with yields up to 0.5t/ha higher than wheat, and its early maturity allowed late sowing.

Loose smut has been a widespread problem with the Hindmarsh variety however, with some existing treatments struggling to contain the disease.

Mr Thomson said smut in Hindmarsh barley was "everywhere" this year and so EverGol Prime would be valuable to help control the disease next season, as well as for providing similar control in wheat.

"It looks like we will be going with EverGol (Prime) with the Hindmarsh next year," Mr Lord said.

Meanwhile, Mr Thomson and Mr Lord also co-ordinated similar large-scale trials of Bayer's new generation, broad spectrum triazole fungicide, Prosaro 420 SC, on the property this season with excellent results, in particular recognising green leaf retention and late application benefits.

Prosaro was applied to both the Calingiri wheat and the Hindmarsh barley at the full 300ml/ha label rate as well as half this rate, again with an untreated strip in the middle of the paddocks.

Mr Thomson said disease levels were low this year, with minor net blotch in the barley and some yellow leaf diseases in the wheat; however, the disease control resulting in green leaf retention was impressive.

"The lower leaves are where we really saw the difference," he said.

Mr Lord said the difference was certainly noticeable.

"The green leaf was strong underneath in the 300ml treatment, which would help (grain) filling," he said. "The wheat has hung on greener. There was a lot more biomass there and you could tell the difference when you ran your hands through the heads."

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