A good grain growing season has Victorian grain farmers on track for a fantastic harvest but there is still the risk of adversity between now and then in the form of a new unwelcome pest or disease.
“Most areas enjoy good soil moisture, plenty of sunshine and stable grain prices and we have every right to expect an excellent crop, despite predictions of a drier than average spring,” says Grains Biosecurity Officer for Victoria Jim Moran.
“So, as a united and active grains industry, we need to be vigilant to ensure new pests and diseases do not enter our paddocks and become endemic in Australia.”
“Apart from the many known pests and diseases currently rearing their ugly head in some districts, it is estimated that there are more than 300 exotic grain pests and diseases in countries we trade with and visit.”
Mr Moran recommends commencing your spring time surveillance now.
“Be on the lookout for anything that is unusual or out of place and is causing damage to the crop,” he suggests.
“For example, if stripe rust or stem rust develops in resistant varieties, it could be a new or an exotic variant of the disease.”
“It could be an insect not seen before nor known to have an appetite for varieties you are growing. The sooner these are found, the more likely it is that they can be eradicated.”
“When checking a crop, make sure you get down and look right into the bottom of the canopy. This is where most diseases begin.”
“If you are just looking at the visible leaves at the top, it is likely you will not notice the infection until it is well established.”
“It is also best to not always go to the same spot in the paddock as many pests and diseases will have hot spots. You may miss the beginning of the infestation if you are just checking the same section.”
If you do see something you do not recognise, report it to your agronomist and call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.
Mr Moran says it is also a good idea to consider how you can protect yourself from new pest threats.
“It is important that we don’t just watch and wait for a problem but also take actions to prevent it,” he says.
“By hanging a free biosecurity fence sign to warn visitors to contact you before entering, inspecting all vehicles intending to drive onto your paddocks and cleaning all machinery thoroughly before moving on and off your property you can help protect your business and the wider industry.
For a free biosecurity gate sign or more information on grains industry biosecurity, farm hygiene and exotic pest threats, please contact Mr Moran on (03) 5430 4479 or visit planthealthaustralia.com.au/gfbp
More from Plant Health Australia