Researchers with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada at Saskatoon have developed a lab test for identifying blackleg disease races in canola that complements the new blackleg resistance-gene labels on canola seed.
Knowing both factors — the blackleg races present in a field and the disease packages available in seed — will allow farmers to select varieties with resistance traits based on the pathogen profile of their fields.
“Having knowledge of the resistance packages used in each variety is very useful, but until you know what the pathogen in your field is, that information is hard to apply,” explains Nick Larkan, researcher with Armatus Genetics in Saskatoon, in this Canola School episode.
“It’s the other side of the equation from the plant genetics. You’ll be able to take this information back to your agronomist or seed supplier and then choose the variety that has the effective resistance that you need to control the pathogen that’s already present.”
Several labs in Western Canada have access to the data underlying the blackleg test, which is based on work spearheaded by AAFC’s Hossein Borhan, says Larkan, who worked at AAFC prior to forming Armatus. The test has recently been made available commercially.
He explains the ideal time for collecting infected stalk samples is at swathing or prior to desiccation. Stalks should be cut just below the crown, with samples taken from several places in a field.
Blackleg populations adapt to resistant genetics over time, but Larkan says the test results should be relevant for several years.
“If you’re not happy with the protection that you’re getting, maybe you want to re-test, but if it all works well, you should have pretty well-controlled blackleg for quite a few years,” he explains.
Check out this latest Canola School video for more on this new blackleg test: