Pulse School: New round of research focused on fighting aphanomyces

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Scientists and plant breeders have their sights set on root rots, given the risk that one in particular — aphanomyces — poses to pea and lentil production in Western Canada and the Northern Plains.

Federal funding for a new five-year Pulse Crop Research Cluster, leveraged by funding from farmer check-off organizations, was announced earlier this month, setting off a new wave of pulse crop research projects.

“There’s a considerable effort being mounted in this current science cluster to address aphanomyces — figuring out its biology, figuring out its genetics, and thirdly, figuring out how its biology and genetics interact with the biology and genetics of the plant,” explains Daryl Domitruk, executive director of Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers, in this research-focused Pulse School episode.

“It’s quite a serious disease that we actually don’t have a lot of solutions for right now,” he continues. “So we’re working on the genetic front, the plant breeding front, and also on the agronomy front.”

He stresses there are still multiple pieces to the aphanomyces puzzle that need to be solved.

“A good example of that is that the existing resistance to aphanomyces is only partial resistance. We don’t foresee, in the near future, strong resistance. So in other words, we’re going to have to rely on management, agronomy, and a bit of luck,” explains Domitruk. “So while the geneticists are working on partial resistance, and eventually full resistance, we have other folks working on the agronomy part and the soil science part in the management of soil and water. And then we’ve got, you know, hopefully some people working on the luck as well.”

Farmers and agronomists are part of the research effort, he adds, encouraging them to take note and share their observations regarding root rots under different conditions and agronomic practices.

Check out the Pulse School episode below, recorded at CropConnect ’24, for more on the effort to figure out and get ahead of root rot risk:

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