Disease management from day dot in your chickpea crop

A thorough disease plan is essential for this year’s chickpea crops after last winter’s breakouts of Ascochyta, Botrytis, Phytophthora and Sclerotinia diseases throughout the northern grain growing belt. Given the large amount of inoculum of these pathogens available to infect 2017 chickpea crops and with seedlings in fallows already exhibiting signs of disease, disease management should be in place from day one.

When it comes to minimising the risk of losses in yield, marketability and income from ‘in-crop’ disease, prevention is always better than cure. For this reason, fungal disease control is geared around protection rather than curing, and as the crops maximum yield potential is set genetically, all efforts need to go into preventing any loss of yield wherever possible.

These preventative measures can start with a good fungicide program in which fungicide is applied as early as necessary to minimise the spread of the disease. A fungicide spray at the commencement of flowering protects early pod set. Additional protection may be needed in longer growing seasons until the end of flowering. Additional sprays are required if the weather conditions favour the disease. Keep in mind that fungicides remain effective for approximately 2–3 weeks and that all new growth after spraying is unprotected. In periods of rapid growth and intense rain (50 mm over several days) the protection period will reduce to around 10 days.

Timing of fungicide sprays is critical. As Ascochyta (AB) and Botrytis (BGM) can spread rapidly, we recommend that you do not delay spraying. A spray in advance of a rainy period is most desirable because, despite some fungicide washing off, the disease will be controlled, whilst delaying until after a rainy period will decrease the effectiveness of the fungicide as the disease has started to spread.

The need for repeated fungicide sprays depends on the amount of unprotected growth, the amount of rainfall since spraying and the likelihood of a further extended rainy period. Unprotected crops can lose over 50% in yield. In severe cases the crop may drop all its leaves, branches and pods.

In addition to these practices, another important consideration is resistance management. The best practice to avoid resistance is to ensure you have a good rotation of chemistry in the program. Most programs provide for an early Mancozeb spray at three weeks post emergence followed by Chlorothalonil 720 fungicide applications then new co-formulation products of an Azoxystrobin and Tebuconazole.

As always, please check with Pulse Australia or the APVMA if products are registered for use or hold an emergency or minor use permit. Always read the label and follow the registered label instructions.

Credit: Maree Crawford, Elders Toowoomba.
Photo credit: Grain Central

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