If the deadly Ug99 stem rust arrived in Australia tomorrow, more than 60% of the country’s wheat varieties would be susceptible and have no effective resistance to the debilitating disease.
Thankfully, scientists like Dr Ian Dundas from the University of Adelaide’s cytogenetics laboratory are working on preventing this occurring by developing new rust resistant genes to be bred into modern wheat varieties.
Do you remember the 1973/1974 stem rust epidemic? It caused an estimated $300 million damage across southern Australia.
Max Brown, an 81-year-old farmer from Wolseley remembers seeing headers turn red from the rust dust.
Having seen how devastating a stripe rust outbreak can be, John Minogue takes variety selection very seriously. The susceptibility rating to rusts is the first thing he looks at when choosing which wheat to grow on his 2000 hectare property at Barmedman, between West Wyalong and Temora in New South Wales.