Septoria Leaf Blotch

Mycosphaerella graminicola
Septoria leaf blotch (also known as Septoria tritici and Speckled leaf blotch) has recently become a common disease of wheat which can result in significant yield loss if not controlled. The main source of infection is spores from infected crop debris with first infections taking place from March to May. Following infection the fungus develops within the leaf until sporulating lesions appear. The key identification feature during winter is the presence of black pycnidia. Later in the year the lesions also tend to become stripe like. The disease undergoes multiple cycles within a crop.
Septoria Tritici - Wheat

Septoria leaf blotch (SLB) is a common wheat disease occurring throughout NZ. SLB can be found from late winter but the main infection period is October onwards and this is when disease symptoms become obvious.

Look out for:

  • Black surface spore cases
  • Lesions with yellow edges
  • Long narrow lesions in the early stages/li>

Risk factors:

  • Crops emerged by mid-late May are at higher risk
  • High rainfall

Look for black pycnidia (spore cases) on the surface of disease lesions. Also, look for long, narrow lesions constrained by leaf veins (once lesions coalesce this can be harder to see).

SLB infection is always a risk in New Zealand but three factors increase that risk. Firstly, cultivar choice: some varieties are more susceptible to SLB infection (often though, they are higher yielding). Second, planting date: wheat crops emerged before late May are at higher risk. Finally, high rainfall increases the risk from SLB, especially rainfall in Oct/Nov.

Yield losses can be high, often in the order of 30% but up to 80% in extreme cases.

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