Ascochyta Blight of Lentil
Note Number: AG1350
Published: May 2006
Updated: August 2012
This Agnote provides Victorian grain growers with information on the integrated management of ascochyta blight of lentils.
Ascochyta Blight in Victoria
Ascochyta blight is a serious disease of Victorian lentil crops. The disease is favoured by periods of high spring rainfall and prolonged wet periods. While the disease can cause leaf abscission, it may also discolour seed which can result in the downgrading of seed quality.
What to look for
All above ground plant parts of lentil plants can be affected by ascochyta blight. Symptoms may appear on plants from the seedling to mature stages. The disease appears as spot-like lesions which are initially light grey, but become tan with a dark brown margin (Figure 1). The centres of lesions become speckled with pycnidia (tiny, dark fruiting bodies). The presence of pycnidia is the best way of identifying ascochyta blight lesions from those caused by other diseases such as botrytis grey mould or stemphylium blight. Heavy infestations of ascochyta blight will cause premature leaflet drop and stem dieback at the growing tips giving plants a blighted appearance.
Figure 1. Ascochyta blight lesion on a lentil leaf. Note the dark pycnidia within the centre of the lesion
Figure 2. A lentil pod infected by ascochyta.
|Figure 3. A comparison of clean seed (left) with ascochyta blight infected lentil seed (right).|
Pod infection can lead to seed infection and discolouration of the seed (Figure 2 & 3). Infected seed generally has brown patches on the seed surface, but may show no symptoms at all. Compared to healthy seed, heavily infected seed is purplish-brown, shrivelled and reduced in size (Figure 3).
The fungal pathogen Ascochyta lentis that causes ascochyta blight can survive in infected seed, and in previously infected lentil stubble. Seed can remain infected for several years. Sowing infected seed can give rise to infected seedlings, and the appearance of symptoms at the seedling stage. Previously infected stubble is an important source of fungal inoculum. Spores are produced on old stubble and are spread to plants by rain splash. Further spread from plant to plant within crops then occurs through rain splash. The development of ascochyta blight epidemics is largely determined by the prevailing environmental conditions, especially the presence of moisture.
Ascochyta blight has the potential to occur in all areas where lentils are grown. Serious yield losses due to the disease are unlikely, but seed discoloured due to pod infection by the pathogen can significantly reduce the market value of the grain. This is very important if choosing to grow green lentils for the human consumption market.
Using old or damaged seed can reduce seedling vigour and increase susceptibility to infection. Only sow seed with less than 5 per cent ascochyta infection, and preferably use seed with nil infection.
Use varieties with greatest resistance.
There are a range of varieties available that are MR or R to ascochyta infection with attributes to suit most lentil growing areas in Victoria.
Infected crop residues can harbour Ascochyta lentis, the causal agent of ascochyta blight. Therefore, avoid planting this season’s crop near old lentil stubble. A program of stubble reduction may also be undertaken by grazing or burying to reduce the carryover of infected stubble into the following season. Allow a break of at least 3 years between lentil crops.
Use a registered seed treatment for the control of seed-borne diseases in lentil. Seed treatments can have a deleterious effect on rhizobia. Therefore, seed should be treated with fungicide and then inoculated with rhizobia in two separate operations. Rhizobia should be applied to seed immediately before sowing, especially on acid soils.
Time of Sowing
Early sowing encourages early infection and increased levels of the disease. Follow the recommended sowing dates for your district.
In areas of high risk it may be necessary to apply foliar fungicides to protect crops, especially if a susceptible variety is grown. Use a registered product, it’s worth remembering that most fungicides are protectants, and are most effective if applied before disease development.
Fungicides should be applied according to label directions for use, ensuring the key points of spray timing and frequency are observed as well as grazing and harvest withholding periods.
Contact/Services available from DPI
DPI Field Crops Pathology, Grains Innovation Park, 110 Natimuk Rd, Horsham 3400. Tel (03) 5362 2111, or the DPI Customer Service Centre 136 186.
This Agnote was developed by Kurt Lindbeck, May 2006 and was reviewed by Helen Richardson and Frank Henry, BioSciences Research - Farm Services Victoria, February 2011 and August 2012. Financial support by the GRDC is gratefully acknowledged.
Published and Authorised by:
Department of Environment and Primary Industries
1 Spring Street
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