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Ascochyta blight (chickpeas) (Ascochyta rabiei)

Brown Ascochyta lesions on chickpea leaves

Ascochyta blight (chickpeas): biology

Seed-borne and stubble-borne. Healthy looking seed may carry high levels of ascochyta blight and introduce the disease at multiple points in a field. Air-borne spores produced on stubble may be carried several miles. Within fields the disease spreads by rain-splash.

Ascochyta blight (chickpeas): Damage description

Visible at all stages of crop development in susceptible varieties. Lesions develop on leaflets, stems and pods which are initially grey, but turn brown with prominent black speckles in the centre. Lesions may girdle the stems causing shoot dieback or death of the whole plant. Pod lesions result in seed shrinkage and discoloration and symptomless seed infection.

With frequent rain showers entire fields of susceptible varieties may be destroyed. Yield losses are negligible in resistant varieties. In resistant varieties limited symptoms may develop late in the season.

Ascochyta blight (chickpeas): Management

Grow resistant varieties. Use completely disease-free seed. Commercial seed testing is available. Rotate with non-susceptible crops. Check crops at the vegetative stage and, if symptoms are present, apply a foliar fungicide at first flower and repeat, as necessary.

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