Grain growers and farm advisers from across northern New South Wales were offered insights into pulse and cereal crop disease management in drought conditions as part of the annual Growers’ Breakfast Forum at AgQuip Field Days in Gunnedah last week.
More than 100 growers, farm advisers and grains industry stakeholders attended the annual forum organised by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
This is the sixth year the two organisations have combined to host the breakfast session at AgQuip – Australia’s largest and premier agricultural field day event attracting more than 3000 companies and in excess of 100,000 visitors over three days.
This year the impressive line-up of speakers included NSW DPI Senior Plant Pathologists Steven Simpfendorfer and Kevin Moore and Research Agronomist Mathew Dunn.
Dr Simpfendorfer discussed the potential implications of drought for cereal disease management, explaining dry conditions reduced the decomposition of cereal stubble effectively prolonging the survival of stubble-borne pathogens and can impact disease cycles.
“The 2017 or even 2016 stubble could be a source of inoculum for 2019 cereal crops. So cereal disease management strategies need to consider two to three-year rotation sequences and how cereal stubble is handled in prolonged dry conditions,” Dr Simpfendorfer explained.
Meanwhile, Dr Moore agreed plant pathogens survived longer than normal in drought conditions. He also warned chickpea growers not to be complacent about the risk of Ascochyta blight following the run of dry seasons.
“The dry winters of 2001 and 2002 did not favour Ascochyta and led the chickpea industry to believe that the Ascochyta risk in 2003 would be low, but many growers discovered the hard way that this was not the case,” he said.
“A similar scenario played out in 2016, following relatively dry seasons in 2014 and 2015. So I am warning growers not to get caught in 2020.
“Ascochyta blight is unlikely to develop to damaging levels in 2019 unless several rain events occur. But when the drought does break, growers are urged to heed integrated disease management advice, especially crop sequencing, to maximise profitability and minimise risk.”
Meanwhile, GRDC Grower Relations Manager – North, Susan McDonnell, said hundreds of growers, farm advisers and industry stakeholders had visited the GRDC site during the AgQuip Field Days.
“A lot of the growers who called in were from northern NSW, but we also had some from Victoria and as far north as Kilcummin in Central Queensland,” Mrs McDonnell said.
“Being part of the field days was invaluable for the GRDC because it offered us a chance to engage directly with growers and hear their concerns and their challenges in what is an extremely difficult season.
“We also wanted to reassure them, that where possible GRDC research trials are going ahead to ensure we learn as much as possible during this drought to help industry develop ways to mitigate future dry conditions.”
Social photos from the GRDC NSW DPI Growers’ Breakfast Forum are available.