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NEWS: Wheat variety resistance could still halt yellow rust infection

29 January 2014

Wheat growers are advised to check crops for yellow rust, following widespread reports of infection in crops, but be aware that many crops could still develop adult plant resistance.

The HGCA-funded UK Cereal Pathogen Virulence Survey has received many samples of very active wheat yellow rust over the winter. Varieties being tested include Gallant, Horatio, JB Diego, KWS Kielder, KWS Santiago and Solstice.

NIAB’s Dr Jane Thomas explains that yellow rust will remain viable over the winter in plants, and only dies if temperatures are low enough to kill the leaves which are infected. Otherwise the growth of the fungus either slows down or it remains dormant in the leaf until warmer conditions arrive.

“With continuing mild weather the risk remains that an early epidemic will develop in the spring, and fungicide programmes will need to be targeted for high risk situations,” advises Dr Thomas. Some crops with active rust were treated before Christmas but the continuing wet weather and waterlogged fields will delay any further spraying.

However, though autumn and winter infection has been spotted on a number of varieties, not all of these will remain at risk as the season progresses and adult plant resistance factors develop. Some varieties are only susceptible to infection at the seedling stage and become more resistant after stem extension to the currently known rust races.

“Updates on seedling reactions to the common ‘Warrior type’ races for varieties on the 2014/15 RL are now available based on UKCPVS testing last year,” says Dr Thomas. This information can be downloaded here.

While the adult plant rating from the RL should guide fungicide programmes, growers should be aware that seedling infection may be seen on Chilton, Monterey and Leeds (all moderately resistant as adult plants) and KWS Croft and Myriad (both resistant as adult plants). Delphi, Revelation and Relay were susceptible to some, but not all, of the Warrior races used in testing but all have very good adult plant resistance. Cougar, KWS Gator and Dickens were resistant as seedlings and have very good adult plant resistance.

HGCA’s Dr Jenna Watts explains that since the RL disease ratings are based on information from the previous cropping season all varieties need to be monitored. “New races can develop through the season so be prepared to take action to protect crops in the early spring if infection is found.”

From spring 2014 HGCA will be doing regular disease monitoring on a small set of untreated trials in England and Scotland. This monitoring activity, in conjunction with UKCPVS, will help to quickly identify the development of any new rust races. The HGCA Information Sheet 26 Fungicide Activity and Performance in Wheat, which compares the activity of fungicides against yellow rust, has been updated.

Additional information

The 2014 UKCPVS stakeholder meeting will be held on Thursday 6th March 2014 at NIAB Cambridge. For more information and to book a place go to www.hgca.com

UKCPVS is funded by Fera and HGCA and managed by NIAB (UKCPVS video). It has been monitoring cereal rusts and mildews in the UK for more than 40 years, detecting and warning industry and growers of new races of disease emerging on resistant varieties. The UKCPVS:

  • Monitors changes in virulence of UK cereal pathogen populations;
  • Maintains and improves variety disease resistance allowing growers to prioritise other characteristics such as yield and quality when choosing a variety;
  • Enables breeders and variety testing authorities to screen out potential new varieties and breeding lines that are too susceptible to new races of disease before they get to the HGCA Recommended List stage or onto farm;
  • Provides information and warnings to assist disease risk management on farm; underpinning HGCA RL disease resistance ratings and assessing the threat that each new race poses to the full range of commercial varieties.