11 December 1998

Pick wheat to beat rust

FAILING to choose a wheat variety with good yellow rust resistance has clear financial implications and could also increase selection pressure for more virulent rust races.

The only reasonably sure way for wheat growers to avoid yellow rust robbing yield is to select a variety with a high level of resistance, Doug Stevens of the Morley Research Centre told last weeks Arable Research Institutes Association conference in Norwich.

Reliance on fungicide alone could put a great deal of selection pressure on the fungus, he added.

"Variety choice is the most effective tool growers have for the control of yellow rust and the disease can be almost completely avoided if the right ones are used.

"But disease resistance is not top priority when selecting a variety. Yield, quality and straw strength may be more important," he admitted.

If that is the case extra yield worth £10-15/ha would be needed to pay for fungicides for varieties such as Equinox, Madrigal, Reaper, Rialto and Savannah which have low end resistant ratings, he said. For the highly yellow rust susceptible Brigadier, which has a NIAB rating of just 1, an extra £25-£30/ha is needed. &#42