Crown rust seen north and south

Crown rust seen north and south

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Grass quality could be at risk from crown rust infection, already seen on many sites including in the north of England, if the unseasonably warm weather continues, warns NIAB TAG's Dr Jane Thomas.

Bright orange crown rust pustules have been visible on perennial rye grass plots at NIAB TAG trial centres across the UK for several weeks. Crown rust reduces the quality and energy available from grass, and in the very worst cases infected grass will be rejected by grazing animals.

"Autumn crown rust infection is not unusual in south west England, but the levels recorded at more northerly sites is cause for concern.  Some varieties are showing up to 15% leaf area infection at the Harper Adams trials site in Shropshire," says Jane.

Plant resistance is the main method of control with future implications on variety choice in seeds mixtures.  Resistance to the disease is evaluated during National List trialling, funded by Fera, and in Recommended Grass and Clover List trials, supported by breeders, seed merchants, EBLEX, DairyCo, HCC and BGS.

"Many perennial ryegrass varieties have good resistance to crown rust and there should be something suitable for every situation.  Incorporating a proportion of resistant material in a seeds mixture will offer protection against the worst effects of crown rust.

"Traditionally, the emphasis used to be on ensuring grass seed mixtures for the south west contained sufficient resistant types, but now it looks as though crown rust resistance will have to be considered further north," suggests Jane.

NIAB recommends grassland farmers consult merchants who participate in the Grass Levy Scheme to receive the most up-to-date technical information on crown rust resistance. For a list of those merchants and a pdf of the farmer recommended variety booklet click this link www.britishgrassland.com/page/herbage-variety-guide

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