Global Agriculture

Barley disease in the spotlight at high rainfall zone grower forum

30 June 2023, AU: An upcoming grower forum in Albany on July 26 will equip grain growers in Western Australia’s high rainfall zones with tools and information to combat disease outbreaks in barley, which have been widespread in recent seasons.

Environmental conditions have been optimal for the development and outbreak of significant disease, making growers’ implementation of effective management strategies difficult.

Barley is WA’s second largest cereal crop after wheat, accounting for 30 per cent of the state’s total cereal production in 2022.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Barley Disease Forum will be coordinated by the Centre for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM) and Stirlings to Coast Farmers.

To be held at the Retravision Stadium in Albany, the forum will provide information on the latest advancements in barley disease management and explore future opportunities for growers and advisers.

The free event will bring together experts from the CCDM, Australian Grain Technologies (AGT), InterGrain, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), ADAMA, Bayer and Syngenta as well as leading agronomists and growers, to share their insights and latest information from recent research.

CCDM director Mark Gibberd says CCDM had worked with growers from southern WA with the barley disease cohort project since 2019, creating an explosion of new understanding about both spot form and net form of net blotch and fungicide resistance in their paddocks.

“Our knowledge of fungicide resistance and the biology of the net blotch pathogens has increased remarkably,” Professor Gibberd says.

“They are two of the most complex pathosystems that we work with. There are multiple mutations conferring fungicide resistance and pathogen populations have proven to be highly dynamic from year-to-year, paddock-to-paddock and even within the paddock.

“But the fact of the matter is, even with growing disease pressure, last season was a bit of a wake-up call. It has become clear that a whole of farming system approach is needed – in particular, we need combine our knowledge of host resistance, pathogen population, fungicide resistance and optimisation of fungicide strategy for the best chance of cost-effective control.

“We’re hoping this forum will help to tease out strategies needed to develop and deploy tools used for reducing barley diseases, ensuring that barley continues to be a profitable crop for the region.”

Divided into topic sessions, the forum will explore three main areas for advancement – barley breeding, disease management (including fungicide resistance) and fungicides available for management.

Following these sessions, a facilitated workshop will explore ‘where to next?’ for barley growers dealing with disease outbreaks, and how industry members can come together to develop the solutions needed to improve disease management in the high rainfall zone of WA.

Stirlings to Coast CEO Lizzie von Perger says the group was keen to be involved in the forum.

“With the barley disease pressure experienced by our farming members in the last couple of years, further research and extension in this area is a key priority,” Ms von Perger says.

“The forum will be a great chance for grower, industry and researcher collaboration on this important topic, and to ensure future research is farmer driven.”

GRDC crop protection manager – west Georgia Megirian says the forum was a result of feedback from high rainfall zone growers at GRDC National Grower Network (NGN) forums, as well as continued investment into crop protection initiatives such as the CCDM.

“This highly anticipated event will be an informed deep dive into barley disease in the high rainfall zone, focusing on the tools growers needs to manage disease in their crops, and how we as an industry can best facilitate practice change,” Ms Megirian says.

“It’s a rare opportunity for growers and advisers to hear from breeders, chemical companies and leading plant pathologists, share information based on their own experiences on-farm, and examine new opportunities for disease management in barley.”

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