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Barley and other grain growers encouraged to remain vigilant for signs of Ramularia leaf spot (July 2017)

Biosecurity Tasmania is encouraging barley and other grain growers to remain vigilant for signs of Ramularia leaf spot of barley.

Ramularia leaf spot of barley (Ramularia collo-cygni) hampers leaf development which can lead to loss of green leaf area in crops, and can result in yield loss.  Symptoms include small brown rectangular lesions with yellow margins within the leaf veins, visible from both sides of the leaf but most obvious on the exposed upper leaves after flowering.  Whilst it spreads via spores to nearby hosts, evidence suggests that long distance spread is limited to infected sown seed.

Growers should be on the lookout for barley plants showing these symptoms—but note these can be easily confused with net blotch that is common on other grasses in Australia.  The disease is suited to Tasmania’s cooler climate and it is most common in northern Britain.

Whilst barley is the main host of concern, Ramularia leaf spot has also been reported on oats and wheat so these are potential secondary hosts - although less likely to be impacted by the disease.

 Ramularia leaf spot was detected on a small plot near Hagley earlier this year. The detection was immediately responded to with the crop removed and appropriately disposed of, with the site further treated to remove the fungus presence. The site remains under ongoing management and surveillance.

There have been no further detections of the disease at the site or other areas. Surveillance continues to be undertaken and grain growers are encouraged to remain vigilant for signs of Ramularia leaf spot.

Biosecurity Tasmania wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the affected research groups, crop managers and land owners in reporting this disease promptly and in cooperating with the response work thus far.

What to do if you think you have found Ramularia leaf spot of barley

Plant Diagnostic Services in Biosecurity Tasmania will test barley samples suspected of being infected with Ramularia leaf spot free of charge. 

Specimens or images can be submitted to a plant pathologist - call 1300 368 550 to be directed to a plant pathologist.  Samples of symptomatic barley leaves should be placed in sealed double plastic bags and sent to: - DPIPWE Plant Diagnostic Services, 13 St John’s Avenue, New Town, TAS  7008

Further information, including images of Ramularia leaf spot of barley symptoms can be found on the Biosecurity Tasmania website.