FABA beans have under a high profile battle with disease this season, with heavy loads of botrytis grey mould and chocolate spot causing easily spotted damage to the pulse crop. The disease burden, combined with damage from waterlogging has seen virtual complete crop loss in paddocks in one of the crop's heartlands, the Wimmera in Victoria. However, speaking at the recent Southern Pulse Agronomy field day at Murra Warra, north of Horsham, Agriculture Victoria plant pathologist Josh Fanning said there had been strong correlation between disease and susceptible varieties. RELATED: Faba bean resistance RELATED: Faba bean market full of beans "We've seen the Bendoc variety struggle with disease, which is consistent with its susceptible rating for chocolate spot and cercospora," Dr Fanning said. "The S rating means there can be complete crop loss in years conducive to disease and no one could dispute this has been a very conducive season," he said. "We have seen the Amberley variety, which is more widely grown in the wetter Western District, hold up much better against disease." Bendoc's key advantage is it's tolerance to some forms of Group B (imi) herbicides, which allows farmers a wider range of in-crop options, but growers will have to weigh up the pros and cons between this and its lower levels of disease tolerance. Pulse Breeding Australia's Jason Brand said growers in the southern Wimmera may follow the lead of the Western District and move into growing primarily Amberley. "There are very few Bendocs grown in the south because they are aware of that disease pressure and this year may be the catalyst to see people make similar varietal decisions here in the Wimmera," Dr Brand said. "You can see in our disease management trials here how much better the Amberleys do against disease," he said. Dr Fanning said it had been a tough season from the start, with cercospora causing damage before botrytis grey mould set in. "Botrytis grey mould thrives on dead material and with the earlier infection of cercospora it was already there." Along with varietal choice he said newer fungicide products were showing up in trials. "The new products are providing better protection, but from an economic point of view they are dearer." "In years like this, however, there is a big return on investment in getting that better protection." In some pleasing news for growers Dr Brand said there may be more resilience in heavily damaged crops than first thought. "There were plenty of crops a month ago that people said they would be abandoned and where they haven't got on to spray them out they're now noticing enough pods to make it worthwhile harvesting. "It's certainly still well below average but that real horror forecast we had through October might not be quite as bad."