Phoma of Chickpea
Note Number: AG0452
Published: June 2008
Updated: November 2016
Phoma can be a serious disease of chickpea when soils remain wet for extended periods following sowing. Relatively few serious outbreaks have occurred in Victoria, however, the disease is common in southern Australia.
What to look for
Seed-borne infection often results in black-brown discolouration of the root near where the seed is attached (Figure 1). Blackening may spread up the root and cause lesions at the base of the stem. Black lesions may completely girdle the base of the stem and root where infection is severe (Figure 2).
Initial above ground symptoms are small, dark tan coloured, irregular flecks on leaves, stems, and pods. The flecks on leaves enlarge to lesions and the surrounding tissue yellows. Within the lesions numerous pinhead-sized black fruiting bodies of the fungus develop. On the stem, similar but more elongated lesions form. (Figure 3)
Pod lesions are sunken, with pale centres and dark margins, and may be covered by small black spots. The fungus may penetrate the pod and infect developing seeds. Badly affected plants may be totally defoliated when infected leaflets senesce and fall.
Figure 1. Root lesion caused by phoma infection of chickpea seed.
Figure 2. Characteristic collar and root rot caused by Phoma.
Figure 3. Stem lesions caused by Phoma infection.
Phoma, caused by the fungus Phoma medicaginis var. pinodella can survive on infected seed, in soil and on crop residue from one season to the next.
Infection can occur at any stage of plant growth provided conditions are favourable. Moisture is essential for infection to occur. Seed to seedling transmission of the disease only occurs when the soil moisture content is high enough. Spores produced on the diseased plants are carried by wind and rain splash ontp neighbouring plants causing secondary infection. Pod infection can occur when the fungus penetrates the pod wall and infects developing seeds late in the season.
The most serious outbreaks of this disease on chickpea in Australia have occurred in very wet years and are often associated with water logging. Phoma affected plants usually fail to set seed. When the disease is spread throughout a paddock it can significantly reduce grain yield.
The fungus can attack most pulses and pasture legumes and the disease is best controlled by crop rotation. The inclusion of non-legume crops in crop rotations prevents the carry-over of the disease from year to year.
Fungicide seed dressings can be used to control seed-borne infection.
All current commercial chickpea varieties are susceptible to the disease. Select the chickpea varieties best suited to your growing region.
For further information on varieties for your district refer to the Victorian Winter Crop Summary.
The use of disease-free seed will help prevent seed to seedling transmission of this disease.
Seed-borne infection can be controlled with fungicide seed dressings.
For more information see the Pulse Australia Bulletin Pulse Seed Treatments and Foliar Fungicides.
In paddocks where chickpeas have been affected by phoma, a three-year break from non-legume crops will minimise the disease risk. Crops that host phoma include field pea, chickpea, faba bean, lupin, lentil, vetch and legume pasture species.
Cereal and oilseed crops will provide an effective disease break.
Follow the recommended sowing rates for your district and remember that sowing rates can vary between varieties.
Time of sowing
Plan to sow at the optimum sowing time for your district.
For the optimal sowing time for your district refer to the Victorian Winter Crop Summary.
No foliar fungicides are effective for the control of the disease.
- DEDJTR Agriculture Information Notes
- Pulse Australia
- National Variety Trials
- Victorian Winter Crop Summary
- Victorian Pulse Disease Guide
- Seed Health Testing in Pulse Crops (AG1250)
- Pulse Seed Treatments and Foliar Fungicides
- Chickpea Disease Management Strategy
Contact/Services available from DEDJTR
Field Crops Pathology, Grains Innovation Park, 110 Natimuk Road, Horsham 3400 Phone: (03) 5362 2111 or the DEDJTR Customer Service Centre on 136 186.
This Information Note was originally written by Helen Richardson and Kristy Hobson. It was reviewed by Trevor Bretag, Horsham, Luise Sigel, Agriculture Victoria and Helen Richardson, Agriculture Vicotria in 2016. Support from Agriculture Victoria (DEDJTR) and the Grain Development Research Corporation is gratefully acknowledged.
Last Updated: November 2016
Published by the Victorian Government Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources Melbourne 2016
© The State of Victoria Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources Melbourne 2016
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