Rust threat building in mild conditions

RUSTS look set to be a problem in this season’s winter wheat crops, growers attending an HGCA agronomy workshop at Newmarket, Suffolk, were advised this week.

Temperatures during the autumn and winter to date have been close to the optimum for yellow rust development and brown rust has also taken advantage of the mild conditions.

“We’ve had ideal ‘brewing’ conditions for yellow rust epidemics in crops,” said NIAB TAG’s Stuart Knight.

“There were yellow rust foci in some crops in autumn and everything is shaping up towards yellow rust being an earlier problem than it was last year.

Susceptible varieties

“Not only that, but we have a significant number of susceptible varieties, and these make up quite a big proportion of the wheat area,” he said.

There was also a new race of yellow rust to contend with, affecting the variety Warrior.

“We need to keep an eye on what is going on until we know what varieties that race will affect,” said Mr Knight.

With weather conditions this season similar to those seen ahead of the last major brown rust epidemic, there was concern the disease could be a major threat in 2012. “We’ve got lush crops, we’ve had a mild winter, precious few frosts and we’ve had brown rust lurking in the bottom of crop canopies right the way back to October. Everything is following a similar trend to what we saw in 2006/07,” said Mr Knight.

However, there was a range of fungicides available that were effective against yellow and brown rust, so provided crops were treated at the right time, the solution was to hand, said Mr Knight.

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