Esperance clover disease spreading in pastures

Producers have expressed concern in recent months after observing the subclover leaves turning red before the plants die. Picture: University of Western Australia.
Producers have expressed concern in recent months after observing the subclover leaves turning red before the plants die. Picture: University of Western Australia.

Local farmers have been asked to provide help in understanding the recent spread of a clover disease cropping up in pastures throughout the Esperance region.

Red Leaf Subclover Syndrome has been reported in the region for a number of years but farmers have grown concerned it has spread significantly following the recent dry winter.

Farmers have observed clover leaves turning red before the plants die.

Meat and Livestock Australia, with Australian Wool Innovation, are seeking help from producers across southern WA to better understand the recent spread of Red Leaf Subclover Syndrome across the region.

To better understand the spread and extent of the syndrome, and potential solutions, the groups have developed a survey to enable producers to share their experiences.

They are planning to bring together a cross-disciplinary group of researchers, pasture agronomists and extension experts to assist producers in how to best manage their pasture.

Subclovers are widespread in South Western Australia, with around 13 million hectares of pastures in the south west WA being mostly clover.

The organisations acknowledged that subclover is an important basis for any pasture system and without functioning legumes, pastures significantly lose productivity and cannot sustain current livestock production.

Livestock Australia producer consultation and adoption general manager Michael Crowley said feedback from producers assist in understanding the spread of the problem to enable short and longer term strategies to be developed.

“We understand the level of concern amongst producers about the spread of Red Leaf Subclover Syndrome. If you are a producer who has experienced these problems we want to hear from you,” he said.

Wool Innovation research general manager Dr Jane Littlejohn said both groups shared producers' concerns around the worsening impact of the disease and encouraged affected producers to share information.

“This is a combined effort to collect more information on the syndrome and will be used to better inform a suitable research approach to identify management strategies,” she said.

To contribute to the survey, visit the Meat and Live Stock Australia website.