SA and Australia work on Russian wheat aphid research

The outbreak of Russian wheat aphid (RWA) in Australia earlier this year could have caused a severe decline in wheat production and completely destroyed barley production.

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This was according to a statement by the ARC’s Small Grain Institute (SGI), Bethlehem.

“However, Australian scientists earlier collaborated with scientists from South Africa, Morocco, Turkey, the US and Argentina to identify and evaluate RWA resistance wheat lines. Numerous sets of wheat and barley germplasm were screened in South Africa for the Australians between 2008 and 2013,” Dr Vicki Tolmay, researcher at the SGI, said.

The wheat lines that were developed in SA were currently tested in Australia. If the resistance is effective against the RWA found in Australia, it could nevertheless still take up to four years to develop commercial wheat cultivars, according to her.

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The RWA was first noticed in South Australia in May 2016 and then found in Victoria in June 2016. It had been confirmed on 93 farms in South Australia covering over 20 500km².

Speculations were that the RWA might have been blown into Australia on trade winds from infected South African wheat crops.