Canola growers battling blackleg disease handed a new weapon

Oilseeds disease expert Dr Steve Marcroft (left) demonstrates the BlacklegCM app to Dagro agronomist Craig Drum of Tatyoon Vic

The potentially devastating disease blackleg may lose some of its sting, due to a smart phone app just released for canola growers.

The BlacklegCM app gives growers a tool to forecast the likelihood and severity of the disease, associated yield loss and economic returns on a paddock-by-paddock basis ahead of sowing.

The app is the result of 30 years of blackleg research and has been built by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in Western Australia as part of a national project.

Oilseeds disease expert Dr Steve Marcroft, who contributed significantly, says the tool will provide growers and advisers with “an interactive interface” to explore and compare the economic outcomes of different management strategies for blackleg, which can cause up to 90 per cent yield loss where a cultivar’s blackleg resistance has been overcome.

Dr Marcroft, of Marcroft Grains Pathology, says BlacklegCM is an extension of the GRDC’s Blackleg Management Guide, updated twice a year.

The app takes account of cost, yield benefits and grain prices to give the best case, worst case and most likely estimates of economic return. It also accounts for the major factors that influence blackleg severity.

The app can also be used during the growing season. “For instance, in 2016 many growers planned for a 2-tonnes/ha crop but soon realised that yield potentials were much higher. Members of the National Canola Pathology team then warned of a very high blackleg lesion severity.

“In this scenario in July, growers could have re-run the app with a three t/ha yield target, rather than a 2-tonnes/ha yield target, and compared plus or minus foliar fungicide.”

The app is now available via the App Store and Play Store, will be updated continuously to ensure it covers all current canola cultivars and their current blackleg ratings.

Also check the Blackleg Management Guide at: