Warning on root disease

STAFF REPORTERThe West Australian

Wheatgrowers have been warned to watch out for root diseases as the season progresses.

It follows a research monitoring program of 184 focus paddocks comprising more than 300,000 hectares, which found increased incidence of soil-borne diseases when wheat was grown without a break crop.

The joint Department of Agriculture and Food and Grains Research and Development Corporation study focused on take-all, crown rot and common rot.

Department researcher Christine Zaicou-Kunesch said the findings highlighted that growers and agronomists should be on the lookout for these soil-borne diseases.

“Root diseases can go unnoticed in a paddock until they build up over time and cause problems with the crop,” she said.

Ms Zaicou-Kunesch said that with an increase in continuous wheat crops and reduced tillage systems, it was important for growers to keep an eye out as the growing season progresses.

“When checking your paddock, observe your crop closely, compare with others and look for a lack of vigour or patches in the crop,” she said.

“Dig up some plants from different parts of the paddock, thoroughly wash the roots out and identify root diseases using reference material, talking to your local agronomist or by sending it to AGWEST Plant Laboratories.”

If growers notice a root disease in their crop, it is important to consider a change in management options to reduce the impact of the disease for next season with the integration of a number of options likely to yield the most success.

“Crop choice and host resistance, tillage, soil type and nutrition will have varying levels of success on different diseases,” she said.

Crop choice is the most important factor – with root diseases like crown rot and take-all not likely to build up if there is greater diversity of non-cereal crop rotation species.

For more information visit grains.agric.wa.gov.au and search for root disease.

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