Russian Wheat Aphid Detected in NSW

NSW Farmers has been informed by the NSW DPI Director Plant Biosecurity, Dr Satendra Kumar that a confirmed detection of Russian Wheat Aphid (RWA) has been made at Barham in the Murray Region in the south of NSW.

NSW Farmers Members are encouraged to engage in the industry wide FITE strategy in managing RWA. The "FITE"  strategy revolves around four basic principles:

  • Find (look for characteristic leaf streaking or rolling symptoms on cereal crops and grasses)
  • Identify (positively identify RWA in consultation with an industry specialist)
  • Threshold approach (consider international thresholds for control, factoring crop growth stage and potential yield losses)
  • Enact an appropriate management strategy that where possible encourages beneficial insects

The GRDC has published an update paper on the Russian Wheat Aphid, its identification and on-farm management which is available here.


Russian Wheat Aphid (RWA) was first identified in South Australia in May 2016 and then Victoria the following month. In June the National Management Group responsible for guiding Government and industry's response to the incursion found that it was not technically feasible to eradicate RWA. The reality that it is not technically feasible to eradicate the incursion highlights the need for strong on-farm action to manage the impacts it will have on grin production.

Fortunately, it appears that the Australian grain industry is well placed to manage RWA due to investments made by the GRDC since 1995. This planning has included building RWA resistance into its pre-breeding programs and investing into options for chemical control with a number of emergency permits issued by the APVMA for the control of RWA.

These decisions were made after observing the impact RWA had in the USA, where it took breeders eight years to deploy varieties  with resistance.  It is estimated that between 1986 and 2011 RWA cost the US over $1 billion in los production and control costs.

With the identification of RWA in NSW further highlights the importance of NSW growers to engage in the management of RWA.

Key to this is maintaining farm surveillance and reporting of RWA. The GRDC Ute Guide for Crop Insects (which can be downloaded onto a smart phone) includes  identification of WA. Farmers should report suspected sightings to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline (1800 084 881).

As with other pests, growers should consider the economic thresholds and the management of beneficial insects, such as Ladybirds in making the decision to spray.

The best advice for the on-farm biosecurity and the management of RWA is available online here.  

NSW Farmers will continue to work with Grain Producers Australia, the GRDC, Plant Health Australia and the NSW Department of Primary Industries to ensure the best outcomes for the NSW industry.  

Contact: Justin Crosby

Phone: 1300 794 000

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