TSl AG Report June

Pachymetra Soil Surveys Tully 2004-2018 - The drop in spores/kg soil in 2018 (green) is obvious when compared to 2013 (Brown).

With the harvest now underway and, hopefully, the ground starting to dry out, it might be a suitable time for growers to consider Pachymetra soil sampling, especially in the high-risk sub-districts where plough out has been harvested ready for fallow. 

We know the higher risk sub-districts because of successive surveys undertaken in Tully over many years. Pachymetra is a soil fungal disease, which damages the cane roots.

The most recent surveys were conducted in 2013 and 2018 and both surveys showed that certain sub-districts had higher levels of Pachymetra, and, in extreme cases, the crop roots can be so damaged that the crop falls over. We call this Stool tipping. 

The 2013 survey showed that the incidence of Pachymetra was extremely high, but the 2018 survey indicated the levels had almost halved, possibly due to the drier seasons that occurred from 2014 to 2018.

As this year’s harvest progresses, any blocks marked for fallow can be sampled to give an indication of the level of Pachymetra in the soil.

To take the sample, we take soil cores right next to the cane roots from at least 20 sites across a block. The samples are processed right here in Tully at SRA.

The only way to really manage Pachymetra is to monitor the levels through soil testing and if the levels start to climb above critical levels, change to high yielding Pachymetra-resistant varieties in the next crop cycle. The critical levels for fallow start at 60000spores/kg soil.

As an industry, we are now also in a good situation with higher yielding Pachymetra-resistant varieties available than we had in 2013. 

Back then, we really only had a few Pachymetra-resistant varieties, and they were not particularly high yielding.

However, we now have at least 4 high yielding Pachymetra-resistant varieties, for example Q253, SRA 6, SRA 16, and SRA 26 and while these will not all grow everywhere, they all seem to do well in the sub-districts where Pachymetra is an issue.

As these varieties become more prominent, the Pachymetra levels will likely drop further when we undertake our next planned survey in 2023.

Tully growers can also access the TCPSL 2 for one deal where every Pachymetra sample you take, (which cost $50), you get one free. 

For further information, call TSL on 0400586968 or TCPSL on 0429022702

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