Feedback sought on spread of Red Leaf Subclover Syndrome in WA

10 November 2017

Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) together with Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) are seeking assistance from producers across southern Western Australia to better understand the recent spread of Red Leaf Subclover Syndrome across the region.

Producers have expressed concern in recent months after observing the subclover leaves turning red, following which the plants die. 

This phenomenon – labelled ‘Red Leaf Subclover Syndrome’ – has been reported in the Esperance region for a number of years, however, following the recent dry winter producers have grown concerned that it has significantly spread.

To better understand the spread and extent of the syndrome – as well as provide researchers and extension providers with more information in order to identify short and long-term solutions – MLA and AWI have developed a survey to enable producers to share their experiences.

MLA and AWI 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 of Western Australia being mostly subclover.

Whilst MLA and AWI over many years have invested in – and continue to invest in - the development of novel legumes such as Biserrula and Serradella, the organisations acknowledge that subclover is an important basis for any pasture system and without functioning legumes, pastures significantly lose productivity and cannot sustain current livestock production.

MLA General Manager – Producer Consultation & Adoption, Michael Crowley said feedback from producers on the issue would 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,” Mr Crowley said.

AWI General Manager, Research, Dr Jane Littlejohn said AWI and MLA shared producers' concerns around the worsening impact of Red Leaf Clover Syndrome and encouraged affected producers to share information on the health of their clover pastures.

“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,” Dr Littlejohn said.

Producers in southern Western Australia experiencing issues with their subclover pasture and willing to assist MLA and AWI should visit


(Picture courtesy of University of Western Australia)

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