18 September 1998

Rust in NI forage maize for first time

RUST has been detected for the first time in Northern Irish forage maize and Trevor Gilliland of DANIs Plant Testing Station is keen to hear of more reports.

The fungus, Puccinia sorghi, causes chocolate brown pustules on leaves and leaf sheaths.

The disease is well known in England, says NIABs Jim McVittie. But fusarium stem rot, common smut and seedling blight, which is fairly well controlled by seed dressings, are more economically significant, he says.

Dr Gilliland admits rusts effect on yield is likely to be relatively small. Unusual conditions could be to blame for the latest discovery. "Equally it could be the first sighting of a disease which could become more prevalent in coming years as the maize acreage increases in Northern Ireland." In that case varietal resistance would assume more importance, he suggests. Differences in infection between varieties in DANI trials have already been noted, he adds.

NI growers who think they have seen rust in their crops are invited to contact the PST on 01232-548000. &#42