Canola growers invest $130,000 in new lab

The new Pathogen Surveillance Initiative will focus initially on clubroot detection

Woman smiling.

Manitoba’s battle against clubroot just kicked up a notch.

The Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) is investing $130,000 in the new Pathogen Surveillance Initiative, which will see a new laboratory set up at the University of Manitoba, MCGA president Ed Rempel announced at the association’s annual meeting in Winnipeg Feb. 18.

The farmer-led effort funded through the canola checkoff, will initially focus on technologies for the detection of low concentrations of clubroot in Manitoba soils.

The Manitoba and Canadian governments are also contributing.

“We have seen the real impact clubroot infections (CR) have on Brassica crops, including canola, in other areas of Western Canada and want to be proactive to protect the income of Manitoba’s 9,000 canola growers from this devastating soil-borne plant pest,” Rempel said.

“2013 was the first time Manitoba had experienced CR-positive plant samples and so the time to act is now.”

A new laboratory is being set up because there isn’t enough room at the Manitoba government’s Plant Diagnostic Laboratory, said Anastasia Kubinec, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development’s oilseed specialist.

“The initial focus is on clubroot but we hope to be able to look eventually for soybean cyst nematode and potentially other pests in crops like potatoes that currently we can’t look for,” Kubinec said in an interview.

“We’re either sending it elsewhere to be looked at or commercial labs, in the case of clubroot, are only looking for it in certain concentrations. With this lab we’ll look at high concentrations but we’re focused on looking for low concentrations so we can act as a kind of early protection for producers and then we can move forward with research and management practices before it is yield limiting.”

The Manitoba government, through the Manitoba Agri-Health Research Network, is purchasing five Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines for the lab, Kubinec said.

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PCRs have the ability to produce DNA copies of a specific segment that can range from thousands to millions in numbers.

The Manitoba government will also staff and train technicians already with the diagnostic lab to work in the new facility.

“In addition to that we are also applying for Growing Forward 2 funding through Growing Actions to also support this lab and this initiative until 2018,” Kubinec said.

“We hope to have the lab up and running for this growing season specifically for testing clubroot. Then in the future we are going to be talking to the pulse growers and the other groups to try and get to the different pests and have more grower dollars going in there so we have a multi-functioning lab for multiple pests.

“It’s very exciting. It’s fantastic that the canola growers identified that this is something they wanted and we were able to work along with them and get this running.”

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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