Russian wheat aphid found in Wimmera

One of the world’s most damaging crop pests has been found in crops at Horsham, Kaniva, Yaapeet and Nhill. AGRICULTURE Victoria has confirmed the dangerous Russian wheat aphid has been found in the Wimmera.

Agriculture Victoria’s Crop Health Services scientists have confirmed the aphids have been found in Horsham, Kaniva, Yaapeet and Nhill.

Chief plant health officer Gabrielle Vivian-Smith said the aphid has been detected in six crops.

“It was a variety of crops, but we are still doing more diagnosis to get a better feel of the aphids locations,” she said.

Dr Vivian-Smith saidan emergency permit hadbeen issued, which supportedthe use of pirimicarb and chlorpyrifos products for control of Russian wheat aphid in winter cereals.

“We have posted a copy of a permit on our website to authorise grain growers to use specific chemicals to control Russian wheat aphid,” she said.

“If farmers make the decision to spray they should adhere to all general chemical use practices.

“This includes notexceeding label recommended rate or application frequency, observing occupational health and safetyand the usual precautions with weather, spray drift and withholding periods.”

Dr Vivian-Smith said it was vital the farmers did not have a knee-jerk reaction to the pest, and used good practice when spraying.

“Growers should consider economic thresholds, managing potential insecticide resistance, natural pest enemies and beneficial insects, as part of integrated pest management,” she said.

Dr Vivian-Smith said Wimmera growers should take a good look at their crops, talk to their agronomists and take samples.

She said there was more information about what to do with samples on Agriculture Victoria’s website.

“Growers should also take samples to the Horsham laboratory for identification, so we can better track where the aphid is and isn’t,” she said.

Dr Vivian-Smith said Russian wheat aphid has now been deemed non-eradicable by the National Biosecurity Management Group, which comprisedrepresentatives from all Australian governments and major industry groups.

“Grain growers should be speaking to their agronomist for advice about how to manage the pest in their cereal crops,” she said.

“At this stage the advice to growers and agronomists is to continue to monitor your crops for any signs of damage and if think you have the aphid to take a sample.

“We have information on our website and detailed instructions about how to take a sample, and where and how to send it.”

She also reminded growers of the importance of continuing to follow good biosecurity protocols.

“Hygiene is important to try and limit the spread of this aphid,” she said.

“By practicing good biosecurity hygiene like washing down footwear, not allowing vehicles to enter crops, washing down sites and using disposable overalls we can try and limit its spread.”

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