Cases of clubroot cropping up in Central Alberta canola fields

Canola Council of Canada says more than 300 fields in Central Alberta have clubroot spores

The farmers of Central Alberta have forgotten to check their canola crops for specific diseases, according to a member of the Canola Council of Canada.

Keith Gabert, an agronomist with the Canola Council of Canada in Central Alberta, says certain diseases known to affect canola crops haven’t been much of a problem until recently.

“In this area we’ve forgotten about blackleg and didn’t have to deal with clubfoot until now,” Gabert said.

Both these diseases have been turning up more and more in Central Alberta, and Canola Council of Canada has been doing its best to teach farmers what to look for in their crops.

Thankfully, diseases like blackleg and clubfoot actually describe what the disease looks like on the plant.

“You don’t have to be an agronomist to find blackleg or clubfoot,” Gabert said.

One of the best ways to manage the occurrence of these diseases is through crop rotation, according to Gabert.

Some diseases, such as clubroot, only effect canola or canola-related crops and rotating the types of crops in an area can help mitigate the chances of it contaminating a crop.

“In as little as two cycles it can break the resistance,” Gabert said.

In Central Alberta, Gabert says there have been more than 300 field with clubroot.

In 2019 17 cases of clubroot was found in Lacombe County, and 49 fields were examined.

The County began monitoring for clubroot in 2008.

Clubroot is spread through the moving of soil, in any means including driving through an infected patch.

“We’ve been moving this disease around for a while without knowing it,” Gabert said.

Along with rotating the crops, Gabert also recommends scouting the crops regularly, and to know what you are looking for.

If you find a dead patch in a field, or multiple dead patches, that means you could have billions of spores in the field,” he said.

He continued to explain farmers need to be proactive when it comes to managing the risks to crops, and that includes using R-rate varieties of canola before clubroot it found in a field, control host weeds – some of which can also carry clubroot, and avoid moving soil.

“We forgot what it looks like, and even to look for it… Diseases like blackleg and clubroot can significantly lower your yield,” Gabert said.

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