Canola School: Scouting strategies for clubroot


Any time you’re growing canola, and any field you’re growing it in, clubroot should be on your mind.

For Leighton Blashko, senior technical specialist at BASF Canada, the two most important things when it comes to this yield-robbing disease are sanitation and avoidance. In this Canola School episode, Blashko and field editor Kara Oosterhuis talk about strategies for preventing clubroot spread, and whether or not our scouting strategy is covering all the bases.

“In terms of sanitation, it’s not only washing or sanitizing, or pressure washing equipment, but it might be simple things like knocking the lumps of soil off your equipment as you’re pulling out of a field, just so you minimize the spread of any soil,” says Blashko. Another important strategy is avoiding soil movement, so keeping tillage to a minimum will avoid the spread of clubroot across a field.

In terms of avoidance, Blashko says that scouting is so important to know if clubroot is even present. In Central Alberta, clubroot has been positively identified in a lot of fields across the region, but in parts of Western Canada, clubroot is still on a “leading edge,” and is still spreading.

Blashko says the most important area to scout is field near approaches or field entrances. Hone in on the areas where equipment comes into or out of the field, and pull up at least 100 plants.

Searching for clubroot is like searching for a needle in a haystack, so the more plants you pull, the more likely you’ll find a clubroot infected plant, which means you’re catching the disease in an early stage and can take further mitigative actions.

Selecting a variety with resistance would be the next step, and seed production is ramping up for those varieties. Blashko advises starting with a variety that’s first generation clubroot resistant, and after two cycles with that variety — after six years, with a rotation of one crop of canola every three years — then switch to a second generation clubroot resistant variety.

As for the stigma surrounding clubroot, Blashko thinks that in Central Alberta the stigma is disappearing, but for other regions that are just starting to fight clubroot, the stigma might still be there.

Watch the full conversation between Blashko and Oosterhuis below:


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