14 November 1997

Barley stunt alert

DONT blame aphids for all those poor spots in this years barleys. That is the message from ADAS which says barley stunt in light land crops is more widespread than last year.

The uncontrollable disease, also known as barney (sic) patch and caused by soil-borne rhizoctonia fungus, usually occurs in small patches up to 0.5m diameter.

However, it can affect much larger areas and other crops including sugar beet, says Mike Lole of Wolverhampton ADAS.

"Usually there is little or no grain harvested from the affected patches."

This season more cases have been reported from Suffolk. All crops on loamy sands to sandy loams are said to be at risk. Unusual growing conditions are the most likely explanation for the increased outbreaks, says Mr Lole.