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Viruses in pulse crops in the Northern region

IMG_6594ed 250pi

Chickpea and other pulse crops in the Northern region can be significantly affected by a range of aphid transmitted viruses as was observed in chickpea crops in 2012 and 2013.

The effect of virus infection on plants include stunting, reddening, chlorosis, distortion, shoot tip wilting, reduced yield and grain quality and in many cases premature death. The important viruses affecting chickpeas are spread by flying insects – predominantly aphids.

While there is no treatment for virus infected plants, certain agronomic management strategies can help minimise infection. Preliminary findings (from trial plots in 2012-2014) have shown that the following practices may affect the amount of virus transmission in crops:

  • Chickpea crops with higher plant densities had less virus infection
  • Crops deficient in N, P, K had more virus when compared to crops with adequate nutrition
  • Chickpea planted into standing stubble reduced virus incidence
  • The retention of standing stubble can deter aphids from landing in crops.

The retention of standing stubble can deter aphids from landing in crops

Recent surveys

Recent surveys of chickpea and pulse crops in late September 2014 indicate that virus incidence in Northern region crops is less than observed in the last couple of years but further disease may develop over the next couple of weeks.

Testing is ongoing to determine which virus species are affecting chickpea crops this season. The major virus species affecting chickpea crops was found to differ greatly from year to year in the last couple of seasons and also from region to region, highlighting the complex situation of viruses affecting chickpeas and other pulses.

To gain a better understanding of this complex interaction between virus, vector and pulse crop hosts, the GRDC is funding current and ongoing research with the ultimate aim to provide resistant crops and better management strategies.

The relatively newly found virus “Phasey bean virus” was found infecting commercial crops of vetch and lupins for the first time in the Northern region in August this year and was also commonly found in crops of field pea and faba bean in the Gilgandra / Warren region. While this virus is known to cause a significant disease in chickpeas, further work is needed to determine the extent of disease it causes in other crops.

Read more information about the impact and management of viral diseases in chickpeas (GRDC updates, March 2014).

If you notice scattered plants with reddening (in Desi-type chickpeas) or yellowing (in Kabuli-types) leading to premature plant death as shown in the images, then contact your agronomist, the state department of agriculture or Murray Sharman on 07 3255 4339.


Thank you to Dr Kevin Moore, Dr Andrew Verrell and Joop van Leur from NSW DPI Tamworth. Kevin and Andrew oversaw the plot trials looking at effect of stubble, plant density and nutrition, Joop provided the field samples from Gilgandra and is leading the screening for virus resistance in a range of pulse crops.


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