Karnal bunt is a fungal disease of wheat, durum wheat, and triticale. The fungus invades the kernels and obtains nutrients from the endosperm, leaving behind waste products with a disagreeable odour that makes bunted kernels too unpalatable for use in flour or pasta. Karnal bunt was first reported from South Africa in 2001. As this disease has potentially severe economic implications for wheat producing countries, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) launched a countrywide survey during the 2000/2001 season to establish the distribution of the fungus in South Africa, by sending seed samples to ARC-PPRI’s mycology laboratory for analyses.
Results from such surveys enable DAFF to take informed decisions regarding regulation of diseases in compliance with the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).