Published on Tue, 05/10/2016 by BASF Canada

Blackleg in Manitoba posing a threat to canola production

Disease prevention is the key to minimizing losses and maximizing the success of your canola crop this growing season 

Increasing acres of canola spreading across the province and tighter crop rotations are creating the perfect recipe for blackleg disease to thrive. In fact, according to provincial disease surveys, blackleg had a prevalence of 80 percent and an incidence rate of 14 percent recorded in fields across Manitoba last year.

“The risk of blackleg causing economic losses in canola fields in Manitoba this growing season is very real,” said Glen Forster, Technical Marketing Specialist (Fungicides) BASF Canada. “Known for its persistence, the disease, particularly under dry conditions, can live on crop residue for several years. Even on resistant varieties grown for blackleg, if not managed properly, growers can expect to see blackleg robbing yields.”

Although blackleg can affect canola from seedling to harvest it is critical to control early, on the main raceme of canola, to minimize the impact of the disease on crops. Due to tightening of canola rotations, which increase the potential inoculum source, there is also evidence that blackleg is shifting to more aggressive strains. Growers should remain vigilant to ensure the long-term success of current resistant genetics.

“Growers, particularly under tighter rotations, should consider something more than only seed genetics to protect canola from blackleg,” said Forster. “We are definitely seeing increases in blackleg over time, which will increase the pressure on resistance. That is why we recommend that growers take a more integrated approach.”

Assessing and preventing your risk of blackleg

You are at increased risk for blackleg disease if you:

  • Are seeding canola every three years or less
  • Are using the same varieties repeatedly
  • Have the presence of host weeds in non-canola years
  • Are not routinely scouting for the disease, both during the season and in the fall at swathing
  • Are not using blackleg fungicides

Blackleg prevention tips and best practices:

  • Ensure a one in four-year crop rotation
  • Rotate resistant varieties
  • Properly scout and assess risk
  • Use a foliar fungicide, like Priaxor
  • Implement an integrated management approach to manage blackleg on your farm.

In response to the ongoing and pending threat of this destructive disease and as part of an integrated best practices program, BASF introduced Priaxor fungicide in the 2014 season, to help canola growers across Western Canada.

Chris Grenier farms four thousand acres of cereals and oilseed along with his brother, father and nephew in St. Leon, Manitoba. In 2015, Grenier utilized Priaxor fungicide on all of their canola acres as part of their integrated management approach to protect their canola crop from blackleg.

“Blackleg is a very, very big concern for us. It could wipe out our entire crop and that is why we spray for it,” said Grenier. “In addition, we like using Priaxor for its AgCelence benefits. It keeps the plant healthier and greener longer. And by doing that, it reaches the crop’s full potential.”

Surveys across Western Canada, including Manitoba, have found that blackleg has increased in both incidence and prevalence, with evidence showing that blackleg is shifting to more virulent strains that can overcome or reduce the effectiveness of today’s resistance genetics.

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