Resistant canola strain fears no weevil

A strain of canola bred to resist the cabbage seedpod weevil is expected to be commercially available for Prairie growers’ use by next year.

University of Alberta agricultural entomologist Lloyd Dosdall and University of Guelph plant research scientist Laima Kott on Tuesday announced they’ve developed a canola hybrid using natural weevil resistance from a “close cousin” plant, white mustard.

“The result is a canola plant that maintains its quality and vigour, and now has the genetic ability to resist the weevil,” Dosdall said in a University of Alberta release Tuesday.

Cabbage seedpod weevils, which consume seeds from within canola plants’ pods, is considered an “ongoing threat” to production in southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan, Dosdall said.

The seedpod weevil is spreading north and east at a rate of 50 km per year, he said. Combined damages from crop losses and costs of insecticides to protect against the weevils now reach into the millions of dollars per year, he added.

The discovery, for which Dosdall and Kott have worked on plant crosses since 2000, will allow farmers to ease the use of pesticides on canola crops, and could reduce crop losses by as much as 25 per cent, Dosdall said.

Dosdall said their research data is available for review by anyone who’d like to see it, but he noted in a brief interview Tuesday that Pioneer Hi-Bred is showing the greatest interest so far in the scientists’ weevil-resistant germplasm.

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