Darling Downs – Pasture Dieback watch!

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) has recently verified reports of Pasture Dieback on the Darling Downs. Graziers need to be on the lookout and are encouraged to report any suspected occurrences.

Pasture dieback is a condition resulting in death of grass pastures in patches. Sown grasses such as Rhodes, Creeping bluegrass (Bisset), Buffel (Gayndah and USA) are the most commonly reported as being affected, but many other species are also affected.  Pasture dieback was originally reported in central Queensland in the 1990’s, but the condition has spread dramatically since about 2014 into northern and southern Queensland as well as into New South Wales.

The best time to monitor for pasture dieback is after good rain when pastures should be green, actively growing, and healthy. Dieback often first appears as a patches of grass that fail to respond to rain. Initial signs of pasture dieback are plant stress symptoms of leaf discoloration (yellowing and/or reddening) and unthrifty growth before dying in patches. The dead patches of pasture are then colonised by broadleaf weeds or legumes (both of which are unaffected by the condition) due to the lack of competition from grass. A number of other pasture conditions can cause similar symptoms (e.g. nutrient tie-up or rundown, waterlogging, fungal leaf diseases, cold and/or dry weather). The lack of a known causal agent and these similarities to other conditions make a definitive diagnosis difficult until pastures have died.

Multiple organisations are currently researching potential causal agents, as well as effective management techniques. DAF experts across various fields are conducting comprehensive trials related to insects, fungi, viruses, bacteria and phytoplasmas. Management options trials are also being conducted in several locations – from Boonah in southeast Queensland, to Middlemount in central Queensland.

Further information

To report suspected cases of Pasture Dieback or to get advice for your situation, contact Gavin Peck or Stuart Buck through the DAF Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23.

To keep up to date with DAF’s research, join our Pasture Dieback Industry Network (PDIN), visit the FutureBeef website (www.futurebeef.com.au) and search for “Pasture Dieback Industry Network”.

Gavin Peck, Principle Pasture Agronomist (Sown Pastures), DAF Rockhampton, 0428 783 771, Gavin.Peck@daf.qld.gov.au.