12 September 2001
Web way to save OSR growers 61m

By Tom Allen-Stevens

A CONSORTIUM of scientists, consultants and spray manufacturers have joined forces to help growers tackle diseases that cost the industry 61 million last year.

Much of the 2002 oilseed rape crop has already been drilled into warm and moist seed beds – a recipe for phoma and light leaf spot problems, says the group.

With rapeseed prices rising in excess of 160/t, failure to adequately protect the crop from the diseases could knock a significant hole in gross margin, it adds.

The message came from conference on Wednesday (12 September), hosted by Du Pont, to launch the web-based “PASSWORD” phoma disease prediction service.

Other consortium members involved in the PASSWORD project include ADAS, Central Science Laboratories, ProCam, IACR Rothamsted and Syngenta.

The project, a pest and disease management system designed to help oilseed rape growers assess risk and decide input strategy, has been running for three years.

The light leaf spot prediction service has been available on the internet since last year. The phoma model is due to go live shortly.

“Stem canker is easily the most damaging disease to oilseed rape in much of eastern and southern England,” says Peter Gladders of ADAS Boxworth.

“The key is to monitor crops from emergence onwards, and with the help of PASSWORD make a calculated risk assessment before implementing a well-timed fungicide programme.”

The projects forecast models have shown that in high risk years 96% of the crop in the south east can be infected with phoma, which causes stem canker.

The models are based on data collected by the Department of Rural Affairs winter oilseed rape disease survey and indicate distinct phoma risk regions.

They identify key factors such as autumn and spring rainfall, previous disease incidence and February temperatures, as important in predicting risk of phoma.

Consortium chairman, ProCams David Ellerton, says phoma is the disease to watch this year, and that many varieties respond well to a well-timed fungicide.

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