Senior Plant Pathologist
Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7523 (Direct)


  • To investigate outbreaks of disease in the field and to provide advice and support to Extension specialists and Local Pest, Disease and Variety Control Committees (LPD&VCC) relating to the identification, monitoring and management of sugarcane diseases.
  • To conceive, initiate, conduct and direct research in applied sugarcane pathology in order to provide a sound basis for the understanding of the epidemiologies of pathogens and for the management of diseases.


  • Extension pathology.
  • Communicating research findings and observations to growers, LPD&VCC’s and other interested parties.
  • Molecular identification of Fusarium species in sugarcane.

Research Interests

  • Diagnosis, epidemiology and management of diseases.
  • Effect of Fusarium species isolated from sugarcane on the development and fecundity of the borer Eldana Saccharina.

Key Outcomes

  • The development of mosaic and smut management strategies for the Mpumalanga region, Identification of fungicides for smut and brown rust management.
  • Certain Fusarium species isolated from sugarcane are attractive, promote the development and improve the fecundity of Eldana saccharina while other species are avoided by larvae and have a detrimental effect on larval development in vitro.

Key Publications

McFarlane, SA, Meyer, JH, Cadet, P and Rutherford, RS (2008). Investigation into the effect of nutrition on brown rust development in sugarcane. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass (in press).

van Antwerpen, T, McFarlane, SA, Buchanan, GF, Shepherd, DN, Martin, DP, Rybicki, ER and Varsani, A (2007). First report of maize streak virus infection of sugarcane in South Africa. Plant Disease (in press).

McFarlane, SA and Rutherford, RS (2005). Fusarium species isolated from sugarcane in KwaZulu-Natal and their effect on Eldana saccharina (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) development in vitro. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 79: 120-124.


  • BSc Honours (Natal).
  • MSc (Natal).