Warning: Soil with seed can spread clubroot

Manitoba seed and potato growers are being warned about the risk clubroot-infected soil could get to their farm in the seed they bought for spring planting.

The Manitoba Clubroot Action Team, consisting of representatives from the Manitoba government, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and the Canola Council of Canada, issued the warning in separate letters to the Manitoba Seed Growers Association and the province’s potato growers.

“To minimize the introduction of clubroot to your farm, and Manitoba, we would recommend that potato and grain growers need to be cognizant of the clubroot status of their seed suppliers,” the April 2 letter states. “Also, as a seed buyer, request your seed suppliers to employ best practices to minimize the amount of soil in the seed lot you are purchasing and transporting to your farm.”

Clubroot, which is spread through infected soil, can cut canola yields in half. There are no control measures once it infects a field. The disease, a slime mould that produces galls on the roots of susceptible plants, was discovered in Alberta in 2003 near Edmonton. Since then it has spread to more than 600 fields and as far south as Lethbridge.

Last October SaskCanola announced two canola fields in north-central Saskatchewan were infected.

Clubroot spores survive in the soil for 15 to 20 years, so avoiding the disease is the best control.

“Clubroot-tolerant canola varieties along with long rotations out of canola may help reduce yield losses,” the action team’s letter states.

Farmers in infected areas are urged to clean their equipment to avoid spreading clubroot. But the disease can also be spread with soil on seed, including canola, pea, wheat and potato tubers, says recent research from the University of Alberta.

“Talk to the seed grower to find out if they have clubroot or if they have been tested and if so to make sure they are minimizing the amount of soil moving with that seed into Manitoba,” said Anastasia Kubinec, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives’ oilseeds specialist.

Machines working in the Alberta and Saskatchewan oil patch should also be thoroughly sanitized before moving into Manitoba fields.

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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