Latest weapon in blackleg war

By Country News

New technology is set to enhance decision-making by Australian canola growers in their strategic efforts to reduce yield and profit losses caused by blackleg, a potentially devastating disease.

A blackleg management app has just been released, providing growers with a tool that can forecast the likelihood and severity of the disease, associated yield loss and economic returns on a paddock-by-paddock basis ahead of sowing.

It is envisaged the app will become the mainstay for blackleg knowledge in Australia.

The app has been built by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in Western Australia as part of a national pathogen management modelling and delivery of decision support project, and has had input from all members of the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s National Canola Pathology Program.

Oilseeds disease expert Steve Marcroft, who contributed significantly to the development of the app, said the tool would provide growers and advisers with ‘‘an interactive interface’’ to explore and compare the economic outcomes of different management strategies for blackleg, which can cause up to 90 per cent yield loss where a cultivar’s blackleg resistance has been overcome.

Dr Marcroft, of Marcroft Grains Pathology, said the app was an extension of the GRDC’s Blackleg Management Guide, which is updated twice a year to reflect any changes in the resistance status of individual cultivars.

‘‘Although the management guide provides useful information, it has some limitations in its current form,’’ he said.

‘‘It is difficult to consider complex interactions such as the use of cultivars with different blackleg ratings in high or low rainfall environments and the effect of fungicide use.’’

Dr Marcroft said the app, now available via the App Store and Play Store, would be updated continuously to ensure it covered all current canola cultivars and their current blackleg ratings.

‘‘All new knowledge will also be incorporated,’’ he said.

‘‘For example, knowledge on upper canopy infection and different fungicide timings will be incorporated in the near future.’’

More information specific to blackleg disease can be found at:

More information on managing canola diseases can be found in the GRDC’s Diseases of Canola and Their Management: The Back Pocket Guide, which can be viewed and downloaded at: