Growers should scout clubroot-resistant canolas also

In a year when environmental conditions have been “ideal” for clubroot infection in Alberta’s canola crops, even those growers who seeded resistant hybrids should be out scouting their fields already.

“We have seen some canola crops around the Edmonton area with high levels of infection,” Clint Jurke, an agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada at Lloydminster, Alta., said in a release Tuesday from the Alberta Canola Producers Commission.

“It is still too early to determine the severity of clubroot infection, but we want growers to be out scouting for symptoms.”

Growers who seeded clubroot-resistant hybrids should know that levels of infection of up to eight per cent is “normal” for those hybrids, the commission said.

“If growers are scouting fields seeded to resistant hybrids and find levels higher than this, a patch of susceptible volunteers is the most likely reason,” Jurke said.

Volunteer canola densities can easily exceed 10 plants per square foot in canola-on-canola rotations, and will be part of the current crop unless a different herbicide-tolerant system was used, the commission said.

And with canola-wheat-canola rotations, volunteer canola in the next canola crop may persist at levels of about one plant per square foot in certain situations.

“If volunteers cannot explain high infection rates in resistant varieties, then growers should contact their seed rep for further diagnosis,” Jurke said.

No control products are registered for clubroot in canola. The recommendation is to rotate out of canola for four years in slightly infested fields and seven years in severely infested fields.

Growers who follow these rotations are urged to control volunteer canola and susceptible weeds (mustard family, dock and hoary cress) in the rotational crops, and to consider a clubroot-resistant hybrid the next time canola goes on that field.

How to evaluate the level of clubroot infection

Visual symptoms of clubroot can be incorrectly attributed to heat stress or to diseases such as blackleg, fusarium wilt or sclerotinia. For that reason, proper diagnosis of clubroot should always include digging up plants to check for gall formation on roots.

Start at field entrance. Pull up 10 random plants, remove the soil and examine roots for evidence of galls.

Walk 10 paces into the crop and pull another 10 plants.

Turn 90 degrees and walk another 10 paces. Sample this way in a zig-zag pattern until 100 plants have been sampled. Record the percentage of infected plants.

When sampling, do not be selective in choosing plants. Do not look for sick plants. Make sure the plants sampled are random.

When unsure if a field has clubroot infection, then it is appropriate to sample affected plants to first identify the disease. Then use the above technique to quantify the level of infection.

– Source: ACPC

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