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Ongoing project

Improved capacity for integrated disease management of couch smut (Ustilago cynodontis) in turf (TU17002)

Key research provider: The University of Queensland

What’s it all about?

Beginning in late 2018, this project is tasked with developing an improved integrated disease management plan for couch smut for the Australian turf industry. Its activities include research to better understand the fungus that causes the disease - including its distribution and transmission - as well as the evaluation of fungicides for its control, and a look at potentially resistant couch varieties and hybrids.

A glasshouse experiment has been carried out looking into the effectiveness of selected fungicides to cure plants of couch smut. The five systemic fungicides included in the experiment were those identified from a literature search that have been shown to control other fungal pathogens in turf. They were tested on couch grass with smut that was taken from a Brisbane park.

Fungicides were applied twice, the second time after two months. Visual inspection for couch smut showed a reduction in disease but tests are needed to confirm the results, since the smut may still be present although not visible.

Next steps are to carry out fungicide field trials in spring, so an experimental site is being established at Redlands Research Station using smutted Wintergreen sourced from a commercial turf farm. The most promising fungicides will be tested to find out if they can be an effective treatment.


You can read more about couch smut research on page 12 of the Turf Australia magazine, Spring 2018 edition.

Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Turf Fund