Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

Septoria fight hit by ban on recruitment

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

A NEW strain of septoria that's resistant to the major fungicides used to control it could threaten the future of wheat growing in Ireland.

Teagasc researchers have identified a new strain of Septoria, which shows resistance to triazole fungicides Opus and Proline. Up to now these were the most common and powerful defence against Septoria.

Plant pathologist Dr Eugene O'Sullivan told the National Tillage Conference in Carlow that the new genetic strain of the disease, Septoria Tritici, had not been seen in Ireland prior to its discovery last year.

However, Teagasc's ability to fight the disease has been seriously curtailed by the Government-imposed embargo on public service recruitment.

Dr O'Sullivan, Teagasc's only plant pathologist on staff, is due to retire in July. His replacement cannot be sanctioned while the ban on recruitment is in place.

Dr Steven Kildea, who primarily works on the State body's potato blight project, is employed on a contract basis.

A Teagasc source said that valuable time was also being wasted in the months leading up to Dr O'Sullivan's retirement when a replacement should be working closely with him.

"There are very few people in Ireland who are qualified in the area or who have the necessary combination of skills to take over the role," a source said.

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Principal research officer John Spink told the event that the frequency of the new strain appeared to have affected field performance in terms of immediate disease control and the persistence of field control.

He said control could still be achieved but only by careful alteration of triazole active ingredients applied with another product which is also active against Septoria, or by the use of triazole mixes used with an appropriate mix partner.

Irish Independent