Researchers deliver blow to powdery mildew with crop disease management tools

Controlling some of the most significant crop diseases

The ongoing, unseasonable wet has delivered an additional headache in the form of powdery mildew for mungbean farmers in Queensland and New South Wales.

A disease that impacts mungbean crops annually, powdery mildew, thrives in milder temperatures and high humidity – and can lead to yield losses of up to 40 per cent if left unmanaged.

With little genetic resistance in current mungbean varieties, management of the disease relies heavily on the application of fungicides.

Now, a project co-funded by the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) and the University of Southern Queensland, is working to make management easier and minimise the impact of powdery mildew on the mungbean industry through the use of a recently developed app.

Director of the University’s Centre for Crop Health, Professor Levente Kiss, said the PowderyMildewMBM app supported farmers’ fungicide application decisions.

“Using tools like this app also helps mungbean growers to make assessments on a paddock by paddock basis and and predict the likely economic returns from the sprays,” he said.

“The University of Southern Queensland is really proud to be assisting GRDC in helping growers realise the benefits of the app and supporting them to lower the impact of powdery mildew which is a significant issue.”

Professor Kiss is also leading another project investigating the same issue that is looking at the possible development of resistance to fungicides in crop pathogens.

With the support of the Broad Acre Cropping Initiative – a co-investment of the Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the University of Southern Queensland – the research team has for the first time recently detected the DNA marker of resistance to a fungicide used to control mungbean powdery mildew.

“There is mutation in the DNA of the pathogenic fungi that causes this crop disease,” Professor Kiss said.

“We have found this in the Darling Downs region and that’s a mjaor red flag,” he said.

“Through our work with the Australian Fungicide Resistance Extension Network, another GRDC-supported project, we hope growers take notice of this finding and make the most of the useful guidelines developed by the Network to apply fungicides more strategically to preserve their effectiveness for many years to come.

“These chemistries are still the best, and sometimes they are the only tools we have, to control some of the most significant crop diseases.”

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