NEWS: Wheat rusts are causing serious damage across Europe this year

31 May 2019

All three rusts (yellow rust, leaf rust and stem rust) are being reported by collaborators in the H2020 EU RustWatch project, which NIAB is a partner in, with severe yellow and leaf rust attacks reported in Spain, Belgium, Northern France, UK and Denmark. The following is from the RustWatch team:

  • Yellow rust is very severe in several EU countries, with some unusual patterns of varieties affected. Project partners are currently testing yellow rust samples to determine whether there may be new races affecting these varieties. News on any new races will be available in the near future so that farmers can make better choices of varieties for this autumn.Yellow rust
  • Early testing of the yellow rust samples from Sicily, Belgium, France and Denmark, tested by The Global Rust Reference Centre in Denmark, do suggest that some new races may be involved in the severe attacks of yellow rust.
  • The rust problem on wheat and other cereals is being addressed via international collaboration because of the risk of aerial spread of rust spores to other countries. The launch of RustWatch in 2018, a new European early-warning system for wheat rust diseases, could not have been more timely.
  • The RustWatch consortium and related stakeholders can act quickly in such circumstances, raising awareness and providing information on any new races of rust that may appear. This information can be used by farmers and also by plant breeding companies. The consortium is encouraging farmers and advisers throughout Europe to record outbreaks of rusts. We will launch a crowdsource App to report rust on varieties to a common EU system.


In the UK

The mild winter conditions in 2018/19 allowed both yellow and brown rust to overwinter and appear very early in 2019. Active yellow rust began to develop in January and, although checked slightly in a dry April, has continued to develop throughout the spring. Most severe yellow rust has been reported in the east although reports have been received from many parts of the UK.

Yellow rust has been reported on over 22 commercial varieties as well as new varieties, not yet on the UK Recommended List. Major varieties affected by yellow rust include KWS Zyatt, Skyfall, KWS Lili, Elicit, LG Spotlight, Bennington, Revelation, Dunston, Evolution, RGT Gravity, Graham, Gleam, Zulu, Kerrin, LG Graduate, Shabras, LG Rhythm and KWS Santiago. Many of these have high levels of adult plant resistance but are susceptible at the seedling stage. For many, they are susceptible for much of the Spring period.

Brown rust has been common on susceptible varieties such as Crusoe, KWS Siskin, KWS Lili, LG Detroit and Dunston, with an unusual attack on KWS Firefly. No outbreaks of Stem Rust have been reported in recent years.

Additional information is available on ‘Wheat rusts threaten European wheat production’.

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