Bag and tag suspicious plants, urges ag specialist

St. Jean Baptiste, Man. — “Shoot, shovel and shut up” is just as bad an approach for dealing with clubroot suspicions as it is with livestock deaths, says a Manitoba Agriculture canola production specialist.


Farmers need to know the truth about what’s in their fields if they want to have a chance to fend off an Alberta-like fate, Anastasia Kubinec told the recent St. Jean Farm Days meeting.


“It may be out there. We need to start looking for it, identify it and then work with management.”


Little clubroot has appeared in Manitoba, other than a handful of cases in 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2013 in canola crops. It has been sporadically seen for a century in the province, with incidents in the 1920s in rutabagas and in the 1980s in market gardens.


However, the widespread outbreak in Alberta has alarmed farmers, who fear it could have a devastating impact on canola production. Environmental conditions suggest the dread disease could thrive in Manitoba conditions.


Kubinec said Manitoba Agriculture extension workers will confidentially submit farmers’ suspicious crop samples to the free provincial laboratory that investigates disease, pest and weed samples. 


She said it’s important to quickly spot a clubroot problem because otherwise it can spread throughout a field.


“When in doubt, bag and tag and send it in,” said Kubinec.


Kubinec said farmers can do many things to minimize or eliminate the disease if they find it in their fields, from lengthening rotations to growing resistant varieties. However, that’s possible only if farmers know what they are dealing with.