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Survival, spread and controlling crown rot

Toni Petrionatis from NSW DPI, explains her new project looking at survival, spread and innovative control methods of crown rot in winter cereals with a few handy tips for growers looking to manage crown rot in their crops.

Preliminary research has found that the crown rot fungus is not just present in the crown region of cereal plants, but can also be present up to at least 33cm within the stem at harvest. This may have implications for harvest and planning break crops, in particular those with a shorter mature height such as chickpeas and lentils. The research will explore these effects to determine whether management practises are spreading the crown rot inoculum. 

The research project will also look into the biological and environmental effects that may impact inoculum survival post-harvest, as well as exploring the potential for using microwave radiation to eliminate the pathogenic fungi from the stubble. This microwave technology has already been tested on weeds and is hoped to control the spread of stubble-borne diseases such as yellow spot, common root rot, and crown rot.

While research findings from this new project are still a few years’ away, there are some simple recommendations for growers regarding crown rot, including knowing your disease risk by testing inoculum levels i.e. using a diagnostic service such as PreDicta B.

Further information links 

GRDC Communities – Taking stock of what we know about Crown rot

GRDC Update paper – The secret life of crown rot: What happens after harvest?

GRDC Groundcover – PreDicta B tests help cut turnaround times for researching soil-borne disease interactions


Steven Simpfendorfer (NSW DPI)

Lisle Snyman (Qld DAF)

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