Ascochyta blight is a familiar term to northern chickpea growers. It is one of the most serious diseases of chickpeas in Australia, costing the industry tens of millions of dollars annually in disease control and yield loss.
Caused by the fungus Phoma rabiei (formerly Ascochyta rabiei), the fungus can infect all above ground parts of the plant and is most prevalent when cool, cloudy and humid weather occurs during the crop season.
Now considered to be endemic in all growing regions, Ascochyta blight first caused widespread damage to chickpeas in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland in 1998 when extremely wet conditions favoured disease development and spread. This growing season could be similar with Ascochyta already identified in a number of chickpea crops in NSW and Queensland.