Crown rust threatens grass across UK

Crown rust infection is threatening grass quality, particularly as unseasonably warm weather continues to dominate.

The warning comes as sites across the UK have already witnessed the development of bright orange crown rust pustules, with the worse affected grass being rejected by grazing animals.

The disease has also been seen out of its geographical range, a possible sign climate change is favouring a more northerly distribution, according to NIAB Tag pathologist Jane Thomas.

“Autumn crown rust infection is not unusual in the south and south west of England, but the records recorded at more northerly sites is a cause for concern. Some varieties are showing up to 15% leaf area infection at the Harper Adams trial sites in Shropshire,” says Dr Thomas.

Plant resistance is the main method of control with future implications on variety choice in seeds mixtures. NIAB recommend grassland farmers to consult merchants who participate in the Grass Levy Scheme to receive the most up to date information of Crown Rust Resistance.