White grain warning
Recent wet and humid conditions in South Australia and Victoria could be conducive to the Botryosphaeria fungal disease infecting grain heads and causing white grain formation, warns the Australian Government’s Grain Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
Growers in areas where white grain was an issue in 2010 – particularly the upper north and eastern Eyre Peninsula in South Australia (SA) and parts of Victoria – are therefore advised to keep an eye out for white head formation in their wheat and barley crops, and where detected, determine whether the symptoms have been caused by Botryosphaeria or some other factor.
Dr Hugh Wallwork, senior plant pathologist at the SA Research and Development Institute, says white grain emerged as a new problem in the southern cropping region last season when loads of grain were downgraded or rejected.
Dr Wallwork says “it is expected that the disease will only cause problems under humid spring conditions but research funded by the GRDC in SA and Queensland will help to identify the conditions required for damage more precisely”.
White grain caused by the Botryosphaeria fungus contains no toxins, retains much of its nutritional value and can be safely fed to livestock.
Information on cereal diseases is available from the GRDC online service at www.grdc.com.au/diseaselinks.