Canola School: Preparing for a clubroot fight

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When it comes to growing canola, clubroot is the disease that really can be detrimental to crop yield, and detrimental to future crops if not managed properly.

In Alberta, oftentimes clubroot is thought of to be in the central part of the province, around Edmonton. But as time goes on, it’s slowly but surely spreading, and becoming a problem for more and more areas.

Leighton Blashko, senior tech specialist with BASF, joins our latest Canola School episode to give some updates on clubroot, as awareness becomes heightened across the prairies.

One of the main questions that always comes to the forefront when it comes to dealing with clubroot is — can I test for it?

Blashko explains that it can be tested for both through soil tests and scouting, but when it comes to soil testing, it all comes down to practicality, which can be tough during the busy times of the season.

“Soil testing depends on how much you would sample and how diligent you are on sampling, and where exactly you take that soil core to see whether you would find it, or not find it,” he explains. “So if were were able to test [using] extremely close grid sampling, every square foot, which would not be very practical, you are more likely to find a sample rather than doing one core per quarter section, as an example.”

The other — and maybe more practical — method is to increase scouting in the field. The prime time to start pulling plants to check for clubroot is just as you are starting to see some colour change in the crop as harvest approaches.

“You need to pull up a bunch of plants. And I do mean a bunch. Not going in and pulling up three or four plants and saying yes, ok, I have it, or I don’t. That’s how growers are identifying it,” says Blashko. “They are maybe seeing something strange in their field, for the most part, they see a little patch that just seems a little bit off. It may not be in the lowest area where they say ok, it’s drowned out, it might be more in a mid-slope where they say it shouldn’t be there. Water shouldn’t have been the issue there. So whether it’s something thats an obvious place where you think canola is or isn’t going to be healthy.” He adds to also make sure to look in areas where you think clubroot maybe shouldn’t be an issue. (Story continues below)

Check out the full conversation between Leighton Blashko and RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney, below:

Ultimately though, Blashko says to look at the sustainability of canola as your end goal, by having an integrated management plan. He says to start with your soil, then look at the seed, crop rotation, and additional scouting, and consider adding some amendments like lime. Then, take a look at your field entrances, and think about your weeds. At the end of the day, however, it’s your rotation that is paramount.

“The latest research suggests that if you have a two-year break between canola — so it’s a three-year rotation —  that will reduce the viable spores just about as much as a four-year rotation,” Blashko explains, adding that adding even one more crop to your rotation can make a world of difference.

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