Keeping an eye out for aphids is the best protection against virus - Elders Rural Services

Keeping an eye out for aphids is the best protection against virus

Winter is well and truly here and, luckily for us, crops are out of the ground and powering along.

With many areas of Western Australia, southern and eastern Australia receiving good rains over the last couple of months, we are looking at flourishing crops that are enjoying good growing conditions. As Elders Beverley agronomist Brett Jenkinson explains however, there are always things to be on the lookout for – like barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV).


BYDV is a virus caused by aphids, which affects cereals crops such as wheat, barley and oats.

The virus generally starts as hot spots of yellow plants in wheat and barley, and red in oats.

tell tale yellow leaf symptoms of BYDV in a crop
The tell-tale yellow leaf symptoms of BYDV
Oats showing red leaf symptoms of BYDV infestation.

In winter the symptoms are not as noticeable, however when the temperature climbs with spring the symptoms can become more prominent.

The leaf symptoms appear as yellow tips with with yellowing stripes down the length of the leaf with the plants becoming stunted.

The aphid acts a vector – when the aphid feeds on an infected plant it can pick up some of the virus, then when it feeds again it can transmit the virus.

“At first the infected area can be small but as the aphids continue to feed and move through the crop the infection will spread with them,” says Mr Jenkinson.

“Aphids can pick up the virus from areas around the paddock that are left to grow all year round. These areas, such as bush land, groups of trees, rock heaps and roadsides are havens for weeds, pests and diseases.”

Because these kinds of areas are not sprayed like the crop, the plants in these areas are full of diseases and viruses, supporting masses of insects that are feeding on virus riddled plants.

Unfortunately, once you see it in your crop it is too late for that season.

“All we can do is ensure that you give the crop the best chance through good nutrition and plant health can help to minimise the damage,”

“I tell my clients that the best control is prevention. A seed dressing to protect the emerging plant as part of a good protection plan, and the application of an insecticide during the season to act as an anti-feed for aphids will also help to minimise the risk of BYDV.”

Elders offer a range of crop-protection products.

View the range


Images courtesy WA Department Primary Industries and Regional Development. 

For more information about protecting your crops, speak to your Elders agronomist.

Find your local branch
The information contained in this article is given for the purpose of providing general information only, and while Elders has exercised reasonable care, skill and diligence in its preparation, many factors (including environmental and seasonal) can impact its accuracy and currency. Accordingly, the information should not be relied upon under any circumstances and Elders assumes no liability for any loss consequently suffered. If you would like to speak to someone for tailored advice relating to any of the matters referred to in this article, please contact Elders.