Russian wheat aphid is a major production pest of wheat and barley plants.
This aphid is approximately 2 mm long, pale yellowish green with a fine waxy coating. The pest injects toxins into the plant during feeding which retards growth and with heavy infestations, kills the plant. Affected plants will show whitish, yellow and red leaf markings and rolling leaves.
Russian wheat aphid is a phloem feeder and requires moist/green plant material to survive. It typically feeds at the flowering, fruiting, seedling and vegetative stages of plant growth and is unlikely to survive on cereal seed or hay.
The National Management Group (NMG), comprising all Australian governments, Grain Producers Australia and Plant Health Australia, met on 8 June 2016 to discuss the incursion of Russian wheat aphid (Diuraphis noxia) in South Australia.
Acting on advice from the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP), the NMG agreed that it is not technically feasible to eradicate Russian wheat aphid from Australia.
The NMG agreed that a national management plan for Russian wheat aphid be developed and implemented to manage the pest in Australia. The plan will include a range of elements such as immediate control options, training to promote early detection and best practice management, as well as research and development to provide longer term control options. Plant Health Australia has initiated the development of the plan and will work with Grain Producers Australia, state and territory governments and research bodies to deliver critical activities.
Until the national management plan is implemented, South Australia and Victoria are currently managing the pest by:
• providing agronomy support to assist growers with identification;
• advising on appropriate treatment options;
• coordinating surveillance to delimit the extent of the infestation;
• carrying out work for spring management, including insecticide testing, understanding local behavior of pest, determining biotype present, assessing economic thresholds in cropping systems, National Variety Trials testing to look at existing crop varieties tolerance, screening current Australian cultivars in the lab; and
• carrying out extensive communication campaigns to liaise effectively with industry.
The NMG noted that there are no expected trade restrictions for the export of grain or other commodities to overseas markets.
Further information on the South Australian response to Russian wheat aphid can be found on PIRSA’s website. Additional information on Russian wheat aphid can be found on Plant Health Australia’s website.