Most 2020 pulse seed plentiful, except chickpeas

Tougher harvest conditions have resulted in higher than normal disease levels in seed supply this spring

Seed supply for lentils and peas is solid this spring in Saskatchewan, but chickpea seed is another story.

“The average germ that we have (for chickpeas) is only 82 percent this year, that’s down from 91 percent last year,” said Sandy Junek of Discovery Seed Labs.

“Over 50 percent of the samples that we tested in the lab have germination below 85 percent. Last year it was only (down) 10 percent.”

Junek provided The Western Producer a snapshot of the seed supply for the most common pulse crops, based on averages of samples from across the province.

He said the level of ascochyta in chickpea samples is much higher than last year.

“Our average infection for ascochyta this year is 3.8 percent, that’s up from one percent last year,” Junek said.

He said the crop insurance cut off for ascochyta in chickpeas is very low because it’s such an aggressive disease.

“I’m not sure what the projected acreage (for chickpeas) is going to be in the province, but with what we’re seeing here, the seed quality isn’t as good as it’s been in the past,” Junek said.

“So to find good quality, low disease might be a challenge.”

The germination of field peas averaged 92 percent, up a couple of points over last year, and only 12 percent of lots were rejected because they had less than 85 percent germination, while 18 percent of lots were rejected last year.

However, more samples had disease ascochyta.

“Only 20 percent of the samples we’re getting in the lab are free of disease, and that’s down from 53 percent last year. There are more samples with disease on them, and the overall infection level is about double what we saw last year,” Junek said.

He said it’s a good idea to get a secondary germination test done after the seed has been cleaned to account for any storage or mechanical damage to the seed.

Lentil seed supply is similar to last year, with an average germination of 94 percent, and only eight percent of the samples submitted had germination below 85 percent, while seven percent of samples were rejected last year.

However, anthracnose infection in the lentil seed supply is up.

“Last year we saw an average infection of half a percent, this year we are seeing double that at one percent, Junek said.

“We’re seeing a larger range of diseased samples with anthracnose going all the way up to six percent on some samples, whereas last year the highest sample we tested was only at 2.3 percent.”

He said it’s important to keep the anthracnose numbers low because there is no seed treatment to control the disease, and it can be devastating.

“Ideally you’d use disease-free seed. That 0.3 percent is OK to use if you’re putting it back onto land where you’ve had a lentil crop before,” Junek said.

“You won’t want to put it on virgin land to where you’ve never sown lentils because then you’re just introducing inoculants into the soil, which can give you problems later.”

He said there were low levels of botrytis and sclerotinia in the pulse samples they tested this year, similar to last year.

Discovery Seed Labs is still open for business despite COVID-19, however the company did close its doors to the public to limit contact with the staff.

“We accept samples through the mail and we have a drop-off box that people can drop them off into,” Junek said.

“We’re able to collect the samples, and sterilize the outside of the bags and then put them through processing.”

He said the lab is running a little under staff because of the pandemic, but they are currently only running one day behind.

“The longest test is the vigour test, which is 11 days. So people should be able to get their results back within two weeks of getting their samples to us,” Junek said.

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