Clubroot has been identified in Saskatchewan. It is not in the northwest part of the province but it is getting close on the Alberta side. When talking to industry people, they agree that clubroot will be a disease that in this province in the future. Depending on what happens near your farm, it may be sooner than later when you see this disease. The first thing that needs to be done is to be diligent about what machinery is coming into your fields. Clubroot has shown up in fields where there has been dirt moved into them from infected fields. If no clubroot infected dirt comes into your fields, you will not likely get the disease. This makes it very important to monitor equipment that is coming into your area. There is some movement of the clubroot spores by air and contaminated trash, but only in rare instances. Since we have no known infected fields in the area, movement by air and trash are not likely. Know if there is equipment coming in from Alberta. Demand that it has been properly cleaned. Identification of the disease is critical. The first place that the disease will show up is in the entrances to the fields. Look for wilting plants anywhere but pay special attention to where people and equipment come into a field. The history of clubroot has been that it has been missed when it first showed up and has been allowed to spread through the field. It takes a couple of years for the spore levels to build up to where the disease causes significant damage. Identifying the disease early will allow a producer to apply appropriate corrective actions. Keeping the disease out of your fields is the first line of defense for prevention of the disease. The second line of defense is to practice good crop rotations and weed control. Crop rotations work well in controlling this disease because the spores which cause the infection are short-lived. If there are four or five years between susceptible crops, the disease will be managed. Weed that are in the mustard family are susceptible, so weed control is essential to ensure the disease levels are reduced in a field. If good weed control and proper crop rotation are followed, clubroot will not be a major disease threat to your canola fields. Once the disease has been found, there are tools to reduce the impact such as resistant varieties. As with any genetic disease control tool, they should be used with caution. The more the genetic disease control tool is used, the more likely that resistance will develop. We need to keep the tools to battle control available to use for as long as possible. Using non-resistance varieties is going to produce better yields in areas where the disease has not been identified. Beware of clubroot in your fields. Be on the lookout. Identifying the disease in your fields is critical for control. If you do see suspicious plants, have the problem identified.
By Dave Cubbon, P Ag