16 August 2002

Rust prompts rethink

A SURGE of yellow rust in winter barley this year could prompt a rethink in new variety breeding.

Provisional results from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs survey show the disease has risen from insignificant levels last year to the most prevalent foliar disease of winter barley in 2002.

Although foliar disease levels across England and Wales were almost as low as the record low levels of 2001, yellow rust, which is usually found at below the minimum limit, was found on 3% of crops, the highest level since 1986.

"I hope breeders take note," says Nigel Hardwick from Central Science Laboratory, York, which carried out the survey. "If the trend continues then we could have a serious problem." Regina, Siberia, Pearl and Angela were most affected.

Rhynchosporium was found on 2.7% of crops while eyespot was at its second lowest level since 1990. &#42