Cleaning seeding equipment can stave off clubroot

The Canola Council of Canada is reminding farmers, especially in Alberta, to clean their tillage and seeding equipment before moving from field to field this spring.

The precaution is to avoid spread of clubroot, a devastating fungal disease in canola and other members of the brassica family. Some areas of Alberta are already infected with the disease and there is concern that it could spread further.

In a release, the council says clubroot spreads through resting spores in soil or in plant material containing galls. Resting spores are more likely to spread via contaminated soil carried from field to field by equipment. Studies in fields infected with clubroot have found 90 per cent of detections occured at the most commonly used field entrances. Farm equipment sales and delivery are also very common in the spring.

“Growers are always pressed for time at seeding, but it is well worth the effort to sanitize and clean high-risk machines such as those purchased off-farm, particularly if their origin is not known,” council agronomist Erin Brock said in the release.

 At a minimum, says Brock, growers should be knocking off soil lumps and loose soil from seeders, cultivators and sprayers. Ideally, a power washer should be used with either hot water or steam, finished off with a weak disinfectant of 1-2 per cent active ingredient bleach solution. The solution should remain on the machinery for at least 10-15 minutes. Cleaning should include wheel wells, tires, undercarriage and other areas where soil accumulates. An additional strategy is to plant a grassed area near the field entrance where machinery can be cleaned.

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