It’s still early days, but as we wait for soil temperatures to warm up in parts of the Prairies and for canola seeding to roll in full force, it’s good to review the potential for canola diseases. Root rot pathogens pose a certain amount of risk to a canola crop early in the season.

Justine Cornelsen, agronomy specialist in integrated pest management and sustainable production at Canola Council of Canada, joins western field editor Kara Oosterhuis for this latest Canola School episode.

Cornelsen says that because of the cool, dry conditions, there are a few pathogens to make note of, before the canola seed goes in the ground and as canola emerges.

“Dry soils raise a whole host of issues as canola does need some moisture to start germination,” says Cornelsen. “Once it does emerge, in these drier soils you have to be cautious of different fusarium species.”

Fusarium species that cause root rot prefer drier, warmer soil temperatures while rhizoctonia can thrive in dry, but cool temperatures. Pythium species do well in saturated, cool soils and are usually the first species that infect root tissues, followed by fusarium infection, then rhizoctonia.

“In season, when you’re looking at symptoms, it’s very very difficult to visually tell the difference between them,” says Cornelsen and recommends sending a sample away to identify the pathogens present.

The base level protection for canola is to use a fungicide seed treatment. Crop rotation will help to decrease the pathogen levels in soils, even pathogens that are naturally occurring in soils. Getting canola in the ground at 6 degrees C, or better yet at 8 to 10 degrees C, will give the crop a leg up.

Watch the full interview with Cornelsen and Oosterhuis below:

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