The Canola PODcast, Ep 2: Resisting disease


Sponsored Post

Welcome to Episode 2 of the Canola PODcast, sponsored by InVigor® hybrid canola from BASF.

This podcast series features a number of different guests and experts to discuss what tools InVigor hybrid canola and BASF can offer growers to have a successful season.

This second episode is focused on disease management strategies for blackleg and other diseases of canola. The guests are Russell Trischuk from BASF, and Jason Danielson from Discovery Seed Labs.

A summary of the podcast is below the video.

Disease management is not a static issue and continues to evolve each season. That flexibility and requirement to plan ahead must be considered each and every season for Canada’s canola industry.

Russell Trischuk says that crop monitoring from seeding, to bolting, to flowering, and through to ripening is paramount, but full disease management requires more than just looking for visual cues or symptoms.

“With the advent of min-till and no-till practices and leaving that trash back in the soil, we do know that pathogen levels and those kinds of things have gone up, and as a result of that I think it’s more confusing now than ever, when you just rely on a visual cue,” he says.

Common diseases for Western Canada include blackleg, clubroot, sclerotinia, and now verticillium, and many of the symptoms of each disease can be similar at first glance.

To take a deeper dive into what’s going on, farmers and agronomists need to be making the most of diagnostic services, such as those offered by Discovery Seed Labs.

Jason Danielson with Discovery Seed Labs says that technology has evolved for seed, soil and plant tissue testing, including molecular PCR-based test results. That said, test results are only as good as the sample provided.

“It’s really important for growers and customers to understand how to obtain that representative sample. But once it comes into the lab, the research and analysis that is done is extremely accurate, and that really provides some interesting data points for the growers, because the more they know, the more adapted they can be to the changing situations.”

When sampling, it’s key that you’re going to all corners of the field, taking into consideration different soil types, and that you do an accurate job sampling. The power and the data that a lab delivers only goes as far as that sampling.

Discovery Seed Labs tests using several different assays, but the most common tests still are for germination, vigour, purity, and disease. “We test the seed, we test plants, we test soil — the soil analysis we focus on is mainly related to the disease present in the soil,” Danielson says.

The lab is focused on analysis, not agronomy per se, but Danielson says they do provide help to interpret what’s provided to the customer. Lab tests, he says, are only a snapshot of what is happening on the farm, and an agronomic expert, such as those at BASF, is the best bet in making the best use of the lab results.

Trischuk adds that canola breeding and the role of genetics in disease management can’t be overstated.

“In our breeding program, we look forward to the future and what the potential problems could be, impacting the future canola production. We really try to keep that as our guiding light in direction we go. So we look at tens, if not twenties, thirties, hundreds and thousands of potential new products that we could bring to market,” he says.

New lines are always tested against existing problems, and are also evaluated for future issues, when possible.

“As things like verticillium started to pop up, we very rapidly started to take a look into that disease and understand where we stand and what we can do to prevent those things from happening, he says.

“I can’t thank our breeders enough for the work that they do in these areas.”

When it comes to labeling of hybrid lines, vis à vis blackleg for example, BASF has taken a different approach.

“We utilize a minor, or quantitative, combined with a major, or qualitative, gene strategy for blackleg management in our canola,” Trischuk explains. “We think that if we were to focus on labelling the major genes, we would really lose the focus and benefit of our strategy.”

That doesn’t mean that BASF isn’t exploring all the options, however.

“A good example would be InVigor L233P, which has both a minor and a major gene strategy. That seed has been grown on over 21 million acres in Western Canada over the last half a dozen years, and it’s still going strong,” he says.

Danielson says the data backs up the strategy.

“We’ve had the ability to screen for specific blackleg races now just for a few years. It’s a fairly relative new technology to the testing industry, it’s a great tool in our toolbox in our customers,” he says. “But what we’re starting to see is that when diseases like blackleg are present, and when you can go down to the race level, often when there is a problem in a field, it’s often not just a single race. So what Russ is referring to is something that is very relevant, because we are seeing when that disease is present, that it is multiple races in the fields. So having a strategy like that definitely leads to a more successful opportunity for controlling the disease.”

Genetic resistance, scouting, and lab analysis are some of the layers used for full disease management, and Trischuk adds that there is also new exciting things afoot for seed treatments, as well.

For 2022, BASF is launching a new seed treatment for InVigor hybrids with an active ingredient for control of blackleg.

Danielson explains that this layering tactic is great insurance, regardless of how robust each layer may be on its own.

“We’re big proponents of seed treatments in the lab here, we do quite a bit of tests where samples will come in where we’ll treat them with the seed treatment and then without, and compare those. The lab isn’t the field, but we see remarkable results with how that seed treatment can affect not only the decrease of disease on that seed, but it actually adds a pretty big jump in the quality of that germination process,” he says.


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