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Farmers Urged to Give Fields Grass-Free Break

20 April 2010

AUSTRALIA - Taking a grass-free break from cereals is the best way to reduce the risk of yield loss from crown rot in subsequent crops.

Senior plant pathologist Dr Grant Hollaway from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries told the Weekly Times of the importance of the fungal disease.

The last 13 years of surveys have revealed average losses of two to three per cent each year because of the disease, he said.

"Yield loss varies from year to year, it is seasonal dependent, and in some years 20 per cent of paddocks are suffering greater than five per cent yield loss," Dr Hollaway explained.

The likelihood of crown rot is higher when there is a greater intensity of cereals in the rotation, he continued.

Crown rot is caused by a protist which attacks the roots of the plant and is usually fatal.

Prevention is the best defence, preferably through starting with sterile soil for new plantings and avoiding over or under watering.

TheCropSite News Desk

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