Welcome to the sixth episode of the Canola PODcast, sponsored by InVigor® hybrid canola from BASF. The series was designed to highlight useful tips and tricks growers can bring to their canola fields to help make every acre count.
On this episode, host Shaun Haney speaks with Lori Yarnell, Technical Market Specialist – Fungicides at BASF, to explore what role fungicides play in helping protect yield potential and the investment in InVigor hybrid canola.
In prior podcasts, we’ve looked at some of the key ways to maximize yield potential and the role that diseases can play trying to steal some of that yield away. There is plenty of concern around new disease pressure, such as verticillium stripe, but the usual disease suspects — such as sclerotinia — still require a plan for control. (More below…)
Yarnell explains that sclerotinia is an economically important disease of canola in Western Canada, even as new diseases pop up.
“Sclerotinia continues to be one of the major yield robbers for our canola crops. It’s a fungal pathogen that infects canola, primarily at that flowering timing, so that’s when often we’re timing our fungicides to protect from sclerotinia,” she says. The disease is a tricky one to manage, as the pathogen can live on several other crops in rotation, such as potatoes, sunflowers, soybean, peas, lentils, and chickpeas.
Growers should expect that the pathogen is always around, but it’s weather conditions that will decide if the disease because economically significant in any year.
“One of the challenges with protecting from sclerotinia is timing that fungicide application and knowing whether that fungicide application is needed. By the time we see the symptoms of sclerotinia, those white lesions and and really the white stems later in the season, it’s too late to control it,” Yarnell says.
So much investment goes into growing bigger canola yields, and a proactive disease protection plan is key to protecting yield.
“If you have 100 canola plants, for every 10 that have a sclerotinia symptom, we’re estimating you you lose about 5% of your yield. If you’re aiming for 50 bushel canola, you’re losing two and a half bushels per acre [at that level],” she says.
Dry conditions in many Prairie regions have pushed the decision to spray off of some growers’ radar, but Yarnell cautions that as moisture conditions improve, losses due to sclerotinia will climb.
Strong commodity prices help make the spray decision easier, Yarnell says, as saving 5% to 8% of yield at current market prices makes the ROI on fungicide pencil out.
“I think the last part that likely comes into play [in the spray decision] is this is one of the last time growers will be in the sprayers during the year that often they’re tired from herbicides, tired from insecticides, that they just want to get to the lake, that time of year. So wanting to spend a bit more time in the sprayer can be difficult. I’d recommend really, before the emotion comes into it, really doing that ROI calculation in advance and knowing you know what that trip to the lake might cost them that if you’re losing four bushels an acre. It’s a much bigger number than it was, say five years ago.”