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Fungus imported to control skeleton weed



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PRESS RELEASE BY THE COMMONWEALTH MINISTER FOR HEALTH

IVOR J. GREENWOOD

FUNGUS IMPORTED TO CONTROL SKELETON WEED

The Minister for Health, Senator Greenwood, said

today that plant quarantine clearance had been given the

C.S.I.R.O. to import a special airborne fungus to assist

in the control of skeleton weed.

Skeleton weed, where it is prolific in the wheat

districts of southern New South Wales, has markedly

reduced wheat yields. In these areas it has been present

for about 40 years and more recently has become entrenched

in parts of Victoria and South Australia.

The fungus, Puccinia chondrillina. has been found

to offer better prospects for the control of skeleton weed

than insects which are normally used in biological control

programmes.

Senator Greenwood said that investigation of the

fungus, which belongs to the rust group, had been carried

out at Montpellier in France by a unit of the C.S.I.R.O.

which tested a wide range of commercial crops against the

fungus. . ยท

The results of the C.S.I.R.O. work, which indicated

that the fungus was specific to skeleton weed, were

considered by a group of experienced plant pathologists

in Australia, one of whom was sent to Montpellier to

observe the screening work at first hand. .

Senator Greenwood said that how the fungus

performed on skeleton weed under Australian conditions

had yet to be assessed and would be watched very

closely. The introduction, establishment and field

release of the organism would be in the hands of

C.S.I.R.O. which would be working in close collaboration

with the State Departments of Agriculture and other

interested bodies.

Canberra, May 18, 1971. Dept. No. 17