Canola School: Here comes the next generation of sclerotinia resistance

Courtesy of Michael Harding

Each July canola growers are faced with the difficult question, “Should I or shouldn’t I spray for sclerotinia?”

In the more humid parts of Western Canada, sclerotinia is a huge yield robber. It usually strikes on the years when the canola crop has its greatest yield potential, but spraying is expensive and proper timing can be difficult to determine. In this episode of RealAgriculture’s Canola School, Agriculture and Agrifood Canada (AAFC) researcher Lone Buchwaldt explains that relief may soon be at hand.

Buchwaldt has been working on sclerotinia disease resistance for many years. This resistance is a rare trait but over 500 germplasm lines from around the world were screened, and a number of lines with quantitative resistance have been found.

There are varieties available in the marketplace that have some resistance, but Buchwaldt says the new lines are an improvement. “I would call this the next generation of resistance. It’s a higher level of partial resistance.”

Part of the research has been to find what strains of sclerotinia are in the Prairie Provinces to begin with. 1,400 samples were analyzed and 17 different strains were isolated. Buchwaldt says she is not too worried about the resistance breaking down because the varieties show resistance to all 17 confirmed strains and these new lines feature multiple pathways of resistance.

The research pulled out 30 lines with improved sclerotinia resistance, and four or five of the earliest flowering lines were passed on to commercial seed companies. AAFC is not in control of the commercial development of the varieties, but they do get updates from their partners and she says that cultivars could enter testing in as little as two years.

 

Dale Leftwich

Dale Leftwich farmed for over twenty years and throughout that time worked as an agronomist, seed manager and businessman. He has been on the Boards of SaskCanola, Canadian Canola Growers and Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan. He also help develop the documentary License to Farm.

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