Farm Management

Ascochyta confirmed in northern chickpea crop

Industry calls for Queensland and New South Wales chickpea growers to remain on high alert for costly disease issues this season have been elevated following the detection of Ascochyta blight in a crop near Mungindi.

The infection was found in a crop of Kyabra chickpeas by MCA Goondiwindi agronomist Trent Raymond and confirmed by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) senior plant pathologist Dr Kevin Moore.

Caused by the fungus Phoma rabiei, Ascochyta blight is a serious disease of chickpeas in Australia and has the potential to cause devastating yield losses. It can infect all above ground parts of the plant and is most prevalent in areas where cool, cloudy and humid weather occurs during the crop season.

Dr Moore has urged growers to vigilantly monitor crops for early signs of Ascochyta blight infection, particularly given the Bureau of Meteorology’s forecast of an increased likelihood of above average winter rain and the onset of neutral to La Niña climate conditions by spring for northern Australia.

Dr Moore discussed his updated management recommendations during the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grains Research Updates in southern Queensland.

He recommends spraying all varieties rated Susceptible (eg Kyabra ) or Moderately Susceptible (eg PBA Monarch ), with a registered Ascochyta fungicide before the first post emergent rain event, irrespective of whether Ascochyta was detected in 2014 or 2015 in the surrounding district. However, he said Central Queensland growers should consult their agronomist prior to any spray applications.

“If Ascochyta was found in your district in 2014 or 2015, or on volunteers over 2015/2016 summer, or if you are uncertain of purity of your variety, spray with a registered Ascochyta fungicide before the first post emergent rain event – it’s very important to be confident in the purity of every plant in your crop in making that decision,” Dr Moore said.

“If Ascochyta was not detected in your district in 2014 or 2015 and was not found on volunteers over 2015/2016 summer and you want to minimize your risk of Ascochyta, spray with a registered Ascochyta fungicide before the first post emergent rain event.

“If Ascochyta was not detected in your district in 2014 or 2015 and was not found on volunteers over 2015/2016 summer and you are prepared to accept some risk of Ascochyta, wait until Ascochyta is detected before activating a fungicide program.

“Importantly, the fact that Ascochyta was not detected in your crop or district does not mean it is not there. Indeed, we have had several cases where Ascochyta was not detected in the previous two crops (eg 2014 and 2015) but became widespread on a subsequent crop or volunteers.”

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