FARMERS in the region's west are dealing with a virus other than COVID-19 in some early-sown crops.
The dreaded bean yellow mosaic virus (BYMV) has taken hold in some early-sown faba bean crops, which has the potential to severely impact the crop's yield.
Areas near Wee Waa and Walgett have been the worst hit with some crops losing profitability.
Tamworth Agricultural Institute plant pathologist Joop van Leur said the outbreak of the virus was caused by "a number of factors".
"I must stress, not all faba bean crops have been impacted by the virus, just some of the early-sown crops," Mr van Leur said.
"A report shows about 30,000 hectares of faba beans have been planted across the region and we're finding some of the early-sown crops have been impacted.
"Generally, BYMV is more commonly seen later in the season and can have varying impacts on a crop yields."
Mr van Leur said years of drought conditions contributed to the outbreak.
"The main reason for it was the early rain which triggered an explosion of aphids," he said.
"The early-season rain prompted a lot of the farmers to put in their beans very early and because of that, they were very exposed to those early aphids, which carry the virus into the crop.
"Another reason could be that the seed lots they planted were old, possibly from 2016 seed lots, because of that the plants could have been more vulnerable to viruses.
"The fact that there was no stubble in the paddocks could be another reason because aphids go faster into bear ground than they would into crops planted in stubble."
Faba beans are a popular choice among the region's farmers, due to the benefits they offer to soil and because they can be planted earlier than other crops.
"One of the biggest attractions for planting faba beans is that they can be planted early, which helps farmers manage their workloads later in the season," Mr van Leur said.
"As well as that, the price for faba beans at the moment is quite good and they add quite a bit of flexibility into a farmer's cropping schedule."
Mr van Leur said treatment for the virus was difficult because it was hard to detect.
"Viruses often have terrible sounding names, but at least this one accurately describes the virus because a yellow mosaic is what you will see on the crop," he said.
"All faba bean viruses are aphid-transmitted, so it all depends on how many aphids there are, where they are coming from and how they move into the crops.
"Unless you can catch it very early, which is hard to do, treatments can often only limit the impacts the virus has."
Anyone who notices BYMV in their crops is encouraged to contact the Tamworth Agricultural Institute.