Biology and occurence

Brown rust (Puccinia triticina) is a foliar pathogen of wheat and initiates disease by many cycles of airborne uredospores, particularly in the spring. It is favoured by warmer conditions compared to yellow rust and tends to develop later in the summer than yellow rust, during warm, humid spells of weather. The disease is more prevalent in the south and east of England due to the relatively warm and dry conditions. Mild winters and dry springs favour severe epidemics as more spores are produced and dispersed, particularly because dry conditions in spring are usually associated with dew at night, which allows infection. 

Life cycle of brown rust (Puccinia triticina) adapted from the encyclopaedia of cereal diseases (Anon. 2008b)

Management recommendations

  • Varietal resistance offers an effective method to manage the disease. Use the AHDB Recommended List (scroll to p. 3) to check the current resistance rating of varieties (this has a 1-9 scale, where 9 represents good resistance and 1 represents extreme susceptibility). Compared to yellow rust, there are fewer varieties available with good resistance (8 or 9) to brown rust and more varieties with poor resistance (3 or 4).
  • Monitor all crops regularly for rust symptoms focusing on early-sown crops in high-risk regions. 
  • Resistance ratings do not guarantee durability of resistance. New brown rust races can appear, so check all varieties for brown rust lesions. 
  • Diversifying varieties can help reduce the risk of disease spread between varieties. 
  • Start your disease management in high-risk crops with early spring foliar fungicides. Use azole, SDHI, strobilurin and morpholine fungicides, especially in mixtures, to protect crops from brown rust.

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