New test helps product screening for Chalara management
Multiple fungal organisms are known to cause Crown end rot (CER) in bananas. The following research is focused on the more serious form of CER commonly known as Chalara where the rot extends into the fruit (caused by Thielaviopsis musarum). Disease symptoms are typically observed in the supply chain during cooler periods of the year (winter). Chalara is sporadic in occurrence, making it difficult to conduct research trials with the disease. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries researchers have now developed an inoculation technique that mimics the development of Chalara in the supply chain, enabling researchers to screen and evaluate alternative management options.
There are two post-harvest fungicides currently registered for use in Australia to help manage CER. Although these treatments are effective against the fungi that cause CER, growers have expressed a need for non-chemical options for managing the disease, particularly those with organic status.
The inoculation technique has now been used to determine efficacy of the currently registered fungicides, alternative fungicides and biological products.
Overall, the inoculation technique developed is rapid and reliable and the results are reproducible. Even though the technique was specific for Chalara (T. musarum), crown mould assessments were also obtained. Ideally a successful test product should have efficacy against T. musarum and the range of fungi that cause crown mould.