Pulse School: Dealing with aphanomyces in pulses

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There are a lot of concerns in the pulse market at the moment. Things such as competition from the Black Sea region, and what’s happening with the election in India, can keep farmers up at night.

While you have one eye on the markets, it’s also important to keep the other on agronomy. This is what Tom Warkentin, plant breeder with the Crop Development Centre (CDC), helps farmers do as they make cropping plans for the upcoming year. At this winter’s SaskPulse regional meetings, Warkentin was giving updates on this years pulse varieties. RealAgriculture’s Saskatchewan field editor, Dale Leftwich caught up with Warkentin at Rosetown, Sask., where they talked about root rots and plant breeding.

The group Warkentin is a part of at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) has a multidisciplinary approach. “From our side at the university we’re looking more (into) breeding for resistance, to those pathogens. So, in our own group we work as a team in breeding and pathology,” he says.

Of particular concern is aphanomyces, a root rot that is always around but more active in wet years. Some pulses are not as susceptible to aphanomyces as others according to Warkentin and this can be used to a producer’s advantage.

“Fortunately, some of the other pulse crops (for example) faba, chickpea, and soybean, are more or less resistant, so with respect to rotation, if farmers are growing peas or lentils and if they’re in an area that’s quite prone to aphanomyces, they might want to stretch their rotation to six or eight years,” he says. “So they could grow lentils or peas but then insert one of those other pulses three or four years later to stretch things out.”

The U of S isn’t the only research institution working in this area. “We are fortunate that our colleagues in France and the U.S., in Washington State area, have been working on this disease for 15 plus years and they’ve done a lot of work, to, in the case of peas, identify at least two major genes that can give partial resistance as well as half a dozen minor genes,” says Warkentin.

Lentils are also highly susceptible to aphanomyces, so, when it comes to crop rotation, they don’t provide a break in the disease cycle. The CDC is identifying potential lines of disease resistance for lentils as well but the breeding program is not as far advanced as it with peas.

Watch the entire interview with CDC’s Tom Warkentin and RealAgriculture’s Dale Leftwich below.

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