PO BLOG

Biosecurity and You

Published in January, 2019

7 things farmers need to know about clubroot

"Biosecurity in food production has become important to agricultural producers in Canada — and to the general public. Simple, effective protocols have been put in place for many diseases plaguing animal production, and similar plans can also mitigate risks in plant diseases."

 

By Andrea De Roo

In 2014, with the spread of clubroot from Alberta eastward into Saskatchewan and touching into Manitoba, concerned CAEPLA landowners along the proposed Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project knew that a robust clubroot biosecurity protocol needed to be in place to protect landowners from the spread of this soil-borne disease.

 Andrea DeRoo is the daughter of Wayne DeRoo, who along with Gerry Demare and Daniel Hacault were, as landowners, part of the CAEPLA negotiating team instrumental in developing the robust clubroot biosecurity protocol recently negotiated with Enbridge on the Line 3 Replacement project.

 We will feature more about these landowners and their involvement in the development of this protocol in a future issue.

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Biosecurity in food production has become important to agricultural producers in Canada — and to the general public. Simple, effective protocols have been put in place for many diseases plaguing animal production, and similar plans can also mitigate risks in plant diseases.

Clubroot is a soil-borne disease of canola caused by Plasmodiophora brassicae. It was first found in western Canada in 2003 near Edmonton, but it has remained relatively isolated until now.

Its most recent appearance in areas of Saskatchewan and Manitoba has shocked many in the canola industry who believed the disease would remain a local problem. Since its spread, canola growers have been advised to become familiar with clubroot and how to manage it.

Seven important facts to know about clubroot

  1. The greatest spread of clubroot is caused by soil that is transported on equipment. Avoid the introduction of clubroot by cleaning, monitoring or restricting equipment entering and leaving the field.
  2. Soil conservation practices are important to reduce erosion that spreads clubroot via wind and rain. Minimal disturbance also keeps infected spots local within a field.
  3. Once present, clubroot spores can live for up to 20 years in the soil. It takes at least four years to reduce the spore count in the soil by half, but infected plants can increase levels rapidly.
  4. Clubroot can completely devastate a canola crop, killing all the plants and reducing yield to near zero. While this level of severity is rare, significant economic losses can occur.
  5. Clubroot infects all plants in the Brassicaecea family, including weeds like shepherd’s purse, stinkweed, flixweed, wild mustard and volunteer canola — meaning weed control is very important.
  6. Prevention is key! Now that new clubroot strains have overcome clubroot-resistant crop varieties, there are no effective control measures. Cultural control is limited to crop rotation and there are no fungicide options.
  7. Above-ground symptoms are often attributed to other diseases like sclerotinia or blackleg, and it takes six to eight weeks from initial infection to gall formation underground. It’s best to scout suspicious plants two weeks before swathing or right after swathing.

More information on clubroot can be found at clubroot.ca, and soil testing for clubroot is available commercially.

— Andrea De Roo has a BSA in Agronomy and is an M.Sc. Candidate pending P.Ag.  She is also a proud farmer.

Published in PIPELINE OBSERVER FALL 2015