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Canola diseases a "significant yield risk" for future crops

Weather conditions, strong commodity prices and tighter canola rotations are creating serious concerns about disease risks for canola growers.

According to a recent report from Statistics Canada, canola acres are anticipated to reach nearly 20 million this year, an increase of more than two million acres from 2010. With reports pointing to the potential breakdown of canola variety resistance to blackleg, disease pressure is even a higher concern for this season and into next year’s crop. 

“Tight rotations can allow blackleg inoculums to build up and increase resistance risk,” says Glen Forster, Technical Specialist with BASF Canada. “If blackleg resistance breaks down, it can lead to a significant yield risk with more disease pressure. What’s more, tight rotations can create a situation of repeated incidence of blackleg on future canola crops.”

An infestation of blackleg and other canola diseases increases the risk for repeated infestations on future crops. Canola growers can benefit from regular scouting of fields several times per week early in the season to identify potential blackleg infections as a disease management strategy. This is especially important for any field that has had an outbreak of blackleg previously. Early blackleg signs include grayish lesions with small black spots on leaves, and long lesions on stems, eventually forming blackened basal cankers that appear at the base of the stem.  Scouting fields during swathing is one of the best times to understand potential disease risk for future growing seasons.

Weather is another key factor in disease management for canola crops. Blackleg spores carried by wind and rain droplets can quickly cause infection and spread to neighbouring plants. Sclerotinia, another serious canola disease, is incredibly mobile, spreading by wind across great distances to infect nearby canola crops.

Forster recommends field scouting combined with wider crop rotations and fungicide application to manage disease risks for current and future crops. To protect against early season blackleg infestations, an application of Headline fungicide should be used preventively to maximize yield. “An early application of Headline to control blackleg, followed by an application of Lance at the 20 to 50 per cent bloom stage to control sclerotinia, will provide the best possible protection against two key diseases in canola,” he says. “A healthier canola crop results in maximum yield and quality for growers.”

Provincial agriculture departments provide additional disease management resources for canola growers. Contact your local agriculture department for more information.

About BASF Crop Protection Division

With sales of €4.0 billion in 2010, BASF’s Crop Protection division is a leader in crop protection and a strong partner to the farming industry providing well-established and innovative fungicides, insecticides and herbicides. Farmers use these products and services to improve crop yields and crop quality. Other uses include public health, structural/urban pest control, turf and ornamental plants, vegetation management, and forestry. BASF aims to turn knowledge rapidly into market success. The vision of BASF’s Crop Protection division is to be the world’s leading innovator, optimizing agricultural production, improving nutrition, and thus enhancing the quality of life for a growing world population. Further information can be found on the web at or follow us on twitter:

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