Canola's popularity boomed in Western Australia following agronomic adjustments and disease research.
Over the last three decades, canola has grown from a niche crop to the second largest crop grown in Western Australia in 2022. Growers in low rainfall areas had little success growing canola due to the lack of genetic resistance to blackleg.
Image Caption: Andrew Wherrett
Thanks to an increased understanding of how genes interact with the pathogen, the Australian agriculture industry has tackled the issue with management strategies and rotations.
This increase in access has sparked a boom of canola in the past 30 years; foliar applied fungicides have become an economically relevant control for growers, the agronomy has changed towards an earlier sowing time to curb disease impact. All these changes and more have contributed to canola becoming such a prevalent crop across Australia.
Andrew Wherrett started his career as a soil scientist with the University of Western Australia and Department of Primary Industries. His passion of plant pathology carried him through a PhD research blackleg of canola at the university. He’s been on the frontlines of fighting the disease in Australia and now contributes to research projects across the country to improve the understanding of blackleg in response to changes in canola agronomy.
Andrew will speak at the Global Crop Production Virtual Conference, December 13! Don’t wait to register!
Currently, Andrew oversees the Crop Production portfolio at Living Farm, a commercial research and development firm in York, Western Australia. He manages a group of 5 research agronomists to provide contract research for private crop protection companies to commercialize new herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides.