Canola School: Short-and long-term management options for sclerotinia

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It’s the beginning of July, and farmers growing canola are starting to ask themselves how they can get ahead of the curve and manage sclerotinia before it becomes a problem.

In this episode of the Canola School, RealAgriculture prairie field editor, Kara Oosterhuis speaks to North Dakota State University professor Luis Del Rio about some of the techniques you can use when it comes to managing the disease.

“The first thing we need to think is that the sclerotia can survive in the soil for more than five years. So if we space the amount of time between the crops — like say, canola, wheat, barley, or another grass — that way we are buying time for the sclerotia to just die down,” he explains. “The sclerotia that has been in the ground for three or four years is going to be weakened, and incapable of producing enough amounts of spores.” (Story continues below player)

Assessing whether your crop is even at risk for the pathogen is another essential management technique.

“The main factors that contribute to the risk of infection are precipitation and temperature,” he says. “If you have a weather station, you can collect information from that, and then use that information and data you can obtain in the field to develop programs that could estimate the risk.”

Del Rio added a program like the one developed in North Dakota, is quite useful once a farmer has the data.

If you’ve decided that your crop is at a high enough risk to spray fungicide — crop staging is imperative.

“Typically you will get the best response from your fungicide if you apply it when the plants are somewhere between 20 and 40 per cent in bloom. Past that stage, the return you are going to get from that application is going to go down. Prior to that stage, it’s the same deal.”

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