Canola School: Blackleg — what’s new with an old foe?

Warren Ward, Canola Council of Canada

Because blackleg has been around for a long time, it often doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

So we’re shining the spotlight back on this old foe in this episode of Canola School, with Canola Council of Canada agronomy specialist Warren Ward and RealAgriculture Saskatchewan field editor Dale Leftwich.

They cover the continued importance of monitoring canola for blackleg, how to check plants in the fall (right now!) and what the ratings mean. They also discuss what plant breeders are doing to better understand resistance to different races of blackleg.

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In the video above, Ward gives an explanation of what to look for when scouting for blackleg.

“Number one, we’re looking to see if there are those lesions on the plant, but second to that we also want to clip those roots right at ground level, and have a look inside that cross section of the stem and root, and just see what level that disease is at, within that plant”

Seed companies are becoming more transparent when it comes to the genes protecting canola plants from blackleg. They are trying to assist farmers to rotate their resistance by telling them what genes provide the resistance in each variety. Ward notes, “This is the first year that it’s really been out there in the industry, where some companies have started labeling the resistance genes within each variety.”

Rotating varieties by itself, is not enough, because different varieties may be using the same gene for resistance, he says. “If you know you have been using that same resistance gene on your field for more than one or two cycles of canola on that field, you are at really high risk for starting to see that gene break down and lose the resistance from that variety.”

Ultimately, knowledge is the best defence against blackleg. And now is the time to scout your fields to arm yourself with knowledge needed to make decisions regarding seed and overall blackleg management.

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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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