Canola School: Welcome to Clubroot Anonymous

Photo: Debra Murphy, 2014

Switch to longer rotations, reduce soil movement, grow resistant varieties — the list of keys to managing against clubroot disease has become familiar for many canola growers in Western Canada, but an Alberta farmer with years of experience farming with high clubroot concentrations has another piece of advice: don’t be afraid to talk about it.

Unlike other crop diseases like fusarium or aphanomyces, there seems to be a social stigma surrounding clubroot.

“Nobody wants to talk about it, and I think that’s the worst thing you can do — to not talk about it,” notes John Guelly, who farms in Westlock County, in this Canola School video.

There are a number of understandable reasons for this attempted secrecy: people are concerned about potentially having their property devalued, and no one wants to have neighbours or landlords speculate that management choices led to clubroot disease showing up.

Guelly compares the process of realizing you have clubroot to the stages of grieving, starting with denial and isolation, followed by anger or guilt, bargaining, depression and finally, acceptance.

“Eventually you have to come to some sort of acceptance and come up with a plan that’s going to allow you to continue growing canola with clubroot,” he says.

The quicker a farmer can get to the acceptance stage, the sooner that plan for managing clubroot can be implemented by the farmer, as well as agronomists, custom service providers, and neighbours.

“It’s not the end of the world getting clubroot. It certainly changes your life and your farming practices, but it’s not the end.”

Listen to Guelly discusses the social stigma surrounding clubroot and why it’s important to have open communication after his presentation on this topic at CropSphere 2018 in Saskatoon:

 

Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin

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