It’s too early to say how big a problem verticillium wilt could become for the Canadian canola industry, but it should be on the radar for growers, says the crop pathologist taking the lead on the new disease issue within Manitoba Agriculture.
As reported by Real Ag last week, the first known case of Verticillium longisporum on an oilseed crop in North America was confirmed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency this past fall. The soil-borne pathogen was found on canola plants at an undisclosed research site in Manitoba. The disease is a large yield-reducing factor in canola/rapeseed production in northern Europe, with farmers in Sweden seeing up to 50 percent yield losses.
So how should Canadian farmers and agronomists react to the news of this new disease?
“We don’t know how widespread it is. At this point we’re treating it as an isolated case and as more information becomes available in the spring, as we do more surveys, perhaps it will hit closer to home for growers, or we won’t find it anywhere else and we can manage it as an isolated case,” says Holly Derksen of Manitoba Agriculture in this episode of the Canola School, filmed at St. Jean Farm Days last week.
With so little known about the presence of the pathogen in Manitoba, she says growers should keep an ear open for more information: “Stay tuned for our surveying efforts in the spring. We’re educating agronomists and growers as to what it looks like. Hopefully if it’s in some other fields we’re able to identify it at low concentrations before it’s causing yield loss.”
There are no effective fungicides, nor resistant varieties, so Derksen explains the agronomic practices for managing verticillium wilt in canola are very similar to what’s recommended for clubroot disease.
In the above video, she also discusses how the visual symptoms of verticillium wilt compare with blackleg and fusarium wilt, and how growers should respond to the discovery another disease for canola.
Derksen will be discussing the verticillium wilt case during her presentation at Manitoba Ag Days in Brandon on January 22nd.