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

Saskatchewan canola growers looking for greater blackleg protection

Increasing canola acres combined with tighter crop rotations have created ideal conditions for blackleg to thrive. In fact, according to provincial disease surveys, the percentage of Saskatchewan fields with blackleg present has risen from the 10-year average of 25 percent to 54 percent in 2014, and 57 percent in 2015.

“The risk of blackleg overwintering and causing severe losses in Saskatchewan canola fields this 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.”

Blackleg overwinters on infected canola stubble and can survive for up to four years, leaving this year’s crop at high risk for the disease.

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.

To help prevent blackleg from influencing potential crop yield, getting crops off to a healthy start will be important. “Creating a healthier crop early in the growing season can greatly improve its ability to manage (minor) stress later in its life cycle,” said Forster.


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

For consistently healthier plants early in the growing season, farmers appreciate the consistent AgCelence (plant health) benefits observed when they apply Priaxor fungicide. 

Ryan Johnson, who farms at Gainsborough, SK, has seen the AgCelence benefits of Priaxor first-hand the past two seasons. “Some of the AgCelence benefits I’ve seen by using Priaxor are thicker stocks and better standability, which helps when it comes to straight cutting or swathing,” he said.

Priaxor maximizes crop yield potential through broad-spectrum disease control, increased growth efficiency and better management of minor plant stress. This is often seen through plants that are taller, with greener, larger leaves and stronger stems, leading to increased yield potential.

“With Priaxor’s new mode of action, it’s another tool to help manage disease resistance on my farm,” Johnson added.

Spray timing is an important factor to consider. “Applying the right fungicide at the right time can greatly increase the success of a fungicide application,” said Forster. "Blackleg incidence may be higher this year, but growers can prevent crop losses by providing their canola crops with the protection to grow robustly from seedling through harvest with an application of a fungicide at the critical 2-6 leaf stage of the crop to prevent a blackleg infection.”

Surveys across Western Canada, including Saskatchewan, 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.


© 2016 BASF Canada Inc.

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