Net blotch control study

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

Trials in the eastern Wheatbelt are investigating ways to manage spot type net blotch, a disease prevalent in second-year barley crops.

MADFIG, together with the Department of Agriculture and Food, is examining a range of different ways to determine and manage the impact of the disease on the yields of barley crops.

Spot type net blotch is a fungal disease carried on infected barley stubble from previous seasons and has been common in WA barley crops over the past few seasons.

Two trials, running side by side on the property of MADFIG committee members Neil and Rosemary Smith, are looking at both varietal resistance levels, and fungicide effectiveness.

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According to DAFWA plant pathologist Geoff Thomas, the trials are attempting to provide growers with management options to reduce the impact of the disease on crops in the eastern Wheatbelt.

Mr Thomas said the trials were planted on barley stubble to increase the likelihood of disease prevalence in the plots. He said the purpose of running the two trials side by side was to look at an integrated approach to disease management.

"We don't want to just promote a fungicide option if there is a variety that provides the same benefits," he said.

The first trial investigates varietal resistance levels to the disease.

"There are eight different varieties planted, and at the end of the trials we will be able to determine the yield loss from the disease on each different variety," Mr Thomas said.

The second trial is looking at fungicide effectiveness on both Hindmarsh and Scope, which are two relevant local varieties that regularly had spot type net blotch infection.

"We have a range of fungicide treatments, from a new seed dressing option through to different timing of foliar fungicides," Mr Thomas said.

According to MADFIG committee member Neil Smith, the trial would provide relevant data to eastern Wheatbelt growers to manage the impact of the disease on barley crops.

"We are hoping this trial will give us some guidance as to what is the most resistant variety available to us, and also what fungicide treatments and application rates are most appropriate for our district," he said.

"We also need to determine if it is economical for us to use certain fungicides or treatments."

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