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Chickpea growers advised to protect crops

Editorial
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Growers and agronomists are reminded to take the appropriate management strategies to protect chickpea crops from the impact of Ascochyta blight disease this season.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Plant Pathologist Dr Kevin Moore said following the higher incidence of Ascochyta blight in chickpea crops in 2016, growers are reminded to be vigilant as the first incidence of Ascochyta blight has been found in a chickpea crop in Queensland already this season.

“The diagnosis by a local agronomist was based on symptoms and the presence of pycnidia in leaf and stem lesions with samples being sent to NSW DPI for confirmation,” Dr Moore said.

“The crop was planted in the last week of April and received 15mm of rain in mid-May. However the crop was not sprayed with a fungicide before the rain.

“The outbreak may have involved seed borne ascochyta, but the multiple lesions on infected plants indicate a high level of ascochyta inoculum was in the paddock at planting as infected chickpea residue from the 2016 crop (ie chickpea on chickpea).

“This case highlights one of the risks of planting chickpea back into its own residue. Other risks are Sclerotinia and Phytophthora, which unlike Ascochyta, cannot be controlled in-crop. As Sclerotinia and Phytophthora are soil borne diseases, once they have established in a paddock they pose on-going threats.

“It is recommended that all varieties, including PBA Seamer and PBA HatTrick should be sprayed with a registered ascochyta fungicide prior to the first rain event after crop emergence, three weeks after emergence, or at the three-branch stage of crop development, whichever occurs first.”

Dr Moore said the best practice recommendations for disease control in chickpea crops are to maintain a 1-in-4 year rotation; avoid planting next to last year’s chickpea stubble if possible; ensure all planting seed is pickled and follow the recommended in-crop ascochyta fungicide strategy for the sown variety.”

“The successful disease management in chickpeas relies heavily on an integrated management package involving crop sequencing, variety choice, seed treatment, strategic fungicide use and hygiene.

“Growers are advised that back to back chickpea production can also impact on the chickpea industry through the risk of changes in the pathogen, reduced commercial life of varieties and the resistance to fungicides.”

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