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Secrets of the crown

Dr Steven Simpfendorfer, NSW DPI, inspects a crown rot pre-breeding trial at Tamworth NSW..

RELATED: Keeping crown rot at bay CROWN rot has emerged as an enormous problem in Australia’s cereal crop, primarily in wheat, but also in barley.

It has been particularly fierce in years with dry springs, which have been on the increase in many cropping regions over the past 20 years.

One of the most worrying signs has been the push of the fungal disease south.

Traditionally associated with the wheatlands of northern NSW, there is now significant crown rot damage each year in areas such as the Victorian Mallee.

According to the 2009-10 GRDC publication, The Current and Potential Costs from Diseases of Wheat in Australia, crown rot causes average losses within the Australian wheat industry of $79 million each year, or $6.63 per hectare.

Without current control measures in place crown rot has the potential to cause losses to the wheat industry of $434m a year or $36.44/ha.

Crown rot costs the Australian barley industry $18m each year, but without current controls in place, that figure would be $78 million, according to the GRDC.

The northern region remains the hardest hit by the disease.

In the northern region alone, crown rot costs $14.98/ha to control, but the potential costs of the disease without control would be $54.58/ha or $23 million in total each year.

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