Oats research creates options for cereal growers

DPIRD technical officer Kris Gajda assesses crown rot disease in three paired plots of Bannister oats at the Muresk Institute in 2017, as part of an inoculated trial that showed oats to be a viable cereal alternative for crop rotations.

Milling oats could offer growers an alternative cereal crop to grow in paddocks that are susceptible to the widespread fungal disease, fusarium crown rot.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development trials, which align with the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) National Crown Rot project, have confirmed oats are more tolerant to crown rot than wheat and barley.

The results will be discussed as part of a session on break crops for soil borne diseases at the 2018 GRDC Grains Research Updates in Perth.

Department research officer Dr Daniel Hüberli said the research found that milling oats were four times more tolerant to the common Fusarium pseudograminearum pathogen of crown rot than popular wheat varieties Mace and Emu Rock .

“Crown rot caused an average yield loss of four per cent across the seven milling oat varieties tested, including Bannister, Carrolup, Durack, Kojonup, Mitika, Williams and Yallara,” Dr Hüberli said.

“This compared well to the wheat varieties Mace, which has a susceptible rating, and Emu Rock, which is moderately susceptible, which had a combined average loss of 17 per cent.

“These results suggest that if growers want to sow a cereal into a paddock with high levels of crown rot, milling oats may be a more economically viable alternative than wheat.”

There was little yield variation between oat varieties in response to the presence of high crown rot.

But Dr Hüberli warned milling oats should not be considered a break crop.

“The paddock trials at Pingelly and Merredin showed the amount of crown rot inoculum left in the soil after the oat crop at the start of following season was similar to that of wheat,” he said.

“If growers wish to reduce inoculum levels in their paddocks they would be better to grow a non-cereal break crop, such as canola or a pulse.”

The project is among several of the department’s grains R&D initiatives to be showcased at the 2018 GRDC Grains Research Update on Monday, 26 and Tuesday 27 February at Crown Perth.

Source: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

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