G. J. Hollaway, Biosciences Research Division, Department of Environment & Primary Industries, Horsham, 3401, Victoria, Australia; and
M. L. Evans,
C. B. Dyson, and
A. C. McKay, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Adelaide, 5001, South Australia, Australia
In southeastern Australia, Fusarium crown rot, caused by Fusarium culmorum or F. pseudograminearum, is an increasingly important disease of cereals. Because in-crop control options are limited, it is important for growers to know prior to planting which fields are at risk of yield loss from crown rot. Understanding the relationships between crown rot inoculum and yield loss would assist in assessing the risk of yield loss from crown rot in fields prior to planting. Thirty-five data sets from crown rot management experiments conducted in the states of South Australia and Victoria during the years 2005 to 2010 were examined. Relationships between Fusarium spp. DNA concentrations (inoculum) in soil samples taken prior to planting and disease development and grain yield were evaluated in seasons with contrasting seasonal rainfall. F. culmorum and F. pseudograminearum DNA concentrations in soil prior to planting were found to be positively related to crown rot expression (stem browning and whiteheads) and negatively related to grain yield of durum wheat, bread wheat, and barley. Losses from crown rot were greatest when rainfall during September and October (crop maturation) was below the long-term average. Losses from crown rot were greater in durum wheat than bread wheat and least in barley. Yield losses from F. pseudograminearum were similar to yield losses from F. culmorum. Yield loss patterns were consistent across experiments and between states; therefore, it is reasonable to expect that similar relationships will occur over broad geographic areas. This suggests that quantitative polymerase chain reaction technology and soil sampling could be powerful tools for assessing crown rot inoculum concentrations prior to planting and predicting the risk of yield loss from crown rot wherever this disease is an issue.