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Wet Weather Brings Blackleg Fears

Farmers in Western Canada have been experiencing wet and cool summers for the last few years and it’s bringing about concerns of Blackleg.

Canola is at the highest risk for Blackleg, a dry rot disease that causes stem girdling, a blackening and hardening of a canola stem, which can cause major yield loss by killing or damaging infected plants.

“Farmers should really be checking their fields on a regular basis,” said Harry Brook, crop specialist at the Ag Info Centre with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “The reason it’s an elevated concern is producers are shortening their crop rotations.”

Trends in yield and economic return suggest canola should not be grown more than one year in three, yet some are growing the cash crop one in two years or even back to back.

“On top of that, we have some new strains (of Blackleg), showing up that are overcoming the resistance that we’ve bred with our regular crops,” said Brook.

Farmers should be wary of other canola-related diseases that can crop up if rotations are shortened, such as Sclerotinia, another wet-weather, humidity thriving fungus.

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