Pasture dieback has made its way into legumes – and concern is rising that leucaena could be next.
Geoff Maynard, Mt Eugene, said that, in the past fortnight, dieback had started affecting seca stylo – the their main legume on their Jamin beef property.
He’s also found it in eurocloa, American buffel, green panic, and Rhodes grasses – and said the only grass to escape the disease was native blue grass.
The newly-appointed executive officer of the Leucaena Network, Bronwyn Christensen, Theodore, said dieback had so far been confirmed in the pasture between leucaena rows, but not in the tree itself.
The dieback issue has spread dramatically at Mt Eugene, with the problem flaring up again in the past six to eight weeks.
Mr Maynard said pasture dieback was a serious disaster waiting to happen.
“Obviously we always had the belief a month ago that it didn't get into legumes - but we're seeing it in our seca stylo, and while we don't have a lot of leucaena, we certainly hope it doesn't get in the leucaena,” he said.
“If it gets into buffel and leucaena it could be catastrophic for Central Queensland.”
While some producers have attempted to burn paddocks, others have cultivated or simply left affected areas alone. Mr Maynard said as of yet, there had been no real success that he knows of.
MLA have been researching the spread of pasture dieback, and Mr Maynard said most producers were anxiously awaiting their results.
“They (MLA) have had some drone technologies and companies wanting to show off their wares and try and track the disease to see how fast it is spreading,” he said. “We really just have to wait and see how the results come in from that research.
“Preliminary results weren't conclusive.”
The inconsistency of the phenomenon is baffling researchers and producers alike – with dieback acting in a pattern in one area, but then completely opposite in another.
“The upsurge for us has been dramatic in the last six to eight weeks,” Mr Maynard said. “I think it will affect us a lot.
“What happens between December and March? Will the grass build up an immunity and fight back, or will it suffer and die?
“If it suffers and dies it will be catastrophic for everyone because carrying capacities will have to be knocked around.”
The Maynard family run three properties including Mt Eugene, which is mostly forest country and steep Iron Bark slopes.
Mr Maynard said last summer was incredibly dry with only 19mm of rain over a four month period, and said that left him with little hope that dieback itself would die off in the dry.