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High risk of disease in oilseed rape predicted for this season

25 September 2012

Rothamsted Research has updated its oilseed rape online disease risk forecasts for light leaf spot and phoma leaf spot for the 2012/13 growing season.

Phoma lesion. Credit Rothamsted Research
Phoma lesion. Image: Rothamsted Research

They suggest that disease pressure will be high, as might be expected due to the dreary and wet summer enjoyed by most of the UK. Increased light leaf spot risk is predicted for many crops, as well as an early onset of phoma leaf spot outbreaks in most regions. The tortuous, extended harvest experienced by many growers has compounded the threat , resulting in many crops sown very late which are either yet to emerge or which consist of small vulnerable plants.

The cold, snowy winters and long wet springs of recent years have favoured light leaf spot, according to Weather Innovations plant pathologist Dr Neal Evans.

"It's become the 'forgotten disease' somewhat," Evans says. "The high incidence of the disease in crops of all regions last year means that there is a lot of inoculum about for the 2012-13 season and this is reflected in the forecast. There is a real need for extra vigilance this year."

The phoma leaf spot forecast prediction dates are generally 7-14 days earlier than last year across most of the arable growing region. An early onset of the epidemic combined with backward crops could prove disastrous to an industry hit but what has generally regarded as a poor harvest.

Dr Peter Gladders of ADAS Boxworth says they have already seen leaf spotting on volunteer plants in western counties.

"Early infections, particularly on emerging cotyledons could lead to severe losses, even at this stage of the season," Gladders says.

The forecast updates were done in association with Weather INNovations Inc. with support from HGCA and Bayer CropScience Ltd.

Visit the Rothamsted forecast website at for more details.



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