THE HIGHEST Ascochyta infection rate since 1997 means beans should be tested before planting, growers have been told.

Wet weather prior to harvest resulted in unusually high infection this year, according to the National Institute of Agricultural Botany‘s David Kenyon.

“This level of infection has not been seen since 1997 and growers need to test their seed crop before putting it in the ground.”

In total 7% of samples tested showed infection levels above the threshold at which treatment is not advised. This compares to 1.5-2% in moderate years.

Laboratory testing is the only method of identifying levels of infection, as there are few visual signs in the crop, Dr Kenyon added.

“The worry is that people don‘t check what they‘ve got. Farmers need to be aware that there is a problem this year.”

Anthony Biddle from the Processors and Growers Research Organisation agreed there was a higher risk of Ascochyta this season.

Testing seed before planting was worthwhile, particularly for growers of winter beans, which tend to be more vulnerable over the winter, he said.

“We are regularly picking up Ascochyta in seed lots we are testing.

“If you‘re planting seed with a high incidence of Ascochyta, the potential for spread through the crop is much greater, particularly later in Jan/Feb.”

Testing services and further advice is available to growers from both NIAB and the PGRO.