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Project name Expanding crop protection options for control of blueberry rust
Funding bodies Tasmanian Government Agricultural Innovation Fund
Partners Staphyt Pty Ltd, NSW Department of Primary Industries
Chief Investigators A/Prof Kara Barry, A/Prof Kathy Evans, Michele Buntain
Contributors Biosecurity Tasmania, Tasmanian Blueberry Rust Reference Group
Blueberry rust on leaf

Dr Karen Barry with blueberry fruit

The Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture funded via the Tasmanian Government's  Agricultural Innovation Fund will evaluate a range of crop protectants for blueberry rust disease (caused by Thekopsora minima).

Blueberry rust currently occurs in isolated locations in Tasmania.  Blueberry growers with rust free crops have put in place farm hygiene protocols to help protect their crops from infection.  However, there are currently limited crop protection options available to growers to help prevent blueberry rust infection, particularly for organic producers.

The need for research

The main objective is to improve industry access to crop protectants that are effective against blueberry rust, especially products that are acceptable to organically-accredited growers.  Findings will also be relevant to conventional growers and blueberry growers in all states of Australia.

The key project output will be a minor use permit for a product  that has proved to be effective for the control of rust and is crop safe. The goal is to provide growers with additional options to reduce biosecurity risk and maintain crop productivity and market access.

A need for more organic options

Most effective fungicides for blueberry rust are not recognized by organic certification authorities and therefore cannot be used by certified organic or reduced input producers.  Copper is the only permitted fungicide suitable for organic growers.

Organic options are generally limited in efficacy for rust pathogens and not well explored for blueberry rust. NSW DPI have tested several organic options in 2015-2017, including biological controls (Bacillus subtilis), plant defence activators (Aminogro and other chitosan products), natural products (fish emulsion, seaweed extracts) and combinations of several of these. Disease severity in non-treated plots in these trials was generally low; therefore, the trials provided a limited assessment of fungicide efficacy.

Which products will be tested?

The research team will prepare a 'hit-list' of products, to be tested based on

  • a review of crop protectants currently available
  • suitability for an organic production system
  • advice and recommendations from the crop protection industry and blueberry growers

Adjuvants  will also be investigated as a way of improving the efficacy of organic products and to enhance the length of protection offered under field conditions.

Where will trials be conducted?

Trials will be conducted in the Lockyer Valley (Qld) by Staphyt Pty Ltd and in Wollongbar (NSW) by NSW Department of Primary Industries.  These locations have been selected based on access to a reliable source of blueberry rust, availability of suitable test and grow facilities and due to the containment status of blueberry rust in Tasmania.


Fact Sheets

Managing blueberry rust in a cool climate (PDF 408.5 KB)

Industry Updates and further information about blueberry rust

Biosecurity Tasmania -  Blueberry rust web page

Tasmanian Berry Industry Development Officer:

Mark Salter | 0434 974 653


A/Prof Kara Barry |