Rapid test for net blotch and rhynchosporium in barley set to launch in March

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A rapid test to identify two of the most damaging diseases in barley before they’re visible will be launched in March.

The SwiftDetect test from Microgenetics has already proved to be invaluable in identifying diseases such as Septoria in wheat and the team has now developed new tests to identify net blotch and rhynchosporium in barley. 

Net blotch has the potential to cause yield losses of 10-40% if it is not controlled and rhynchosporium, the most damaging disease affecting UK barley, can inflict several infection cycles during a single growing season. 

“We decided to focus on these pathogens because they’re a particular concern for the British farming industry – we know they cause the biggest crop yield failures and have the biggest financial impact,” says Dr Rebecca Sanders, principal scientist at Microgenetics.

By identifying the presence of net blotch and rhynchosporium before they’re visible, farmers can act quickly to control either disease before they become a more serious problem.

“These diseases have a long latent period when the disease is present but not yet visible,” Dr Sanders says. “By the time visible signs do appear it is too late to recover the full yield and aggressive fungicides will need to be used.”

Early warning

“By using SwiftDetect, farmers are given an early warning that treatment is necessary. It allows them to use it as part of their integrated crop management and spray according to what’s actually in the field, rather than a pre-emptive campaign.”

“It saves money. It saves the environment. And it prolongs the life of fungicides because, like antibiotics, the more fungicides we use, the more likely it is that pathogens will develop resistance to them.”

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