Clubroot Information Webinar

Dan Aberhart and Dan Orchard (Canola Council of Canada) debunk the myths around Clubroot and outline the steps required to prevent spreading this disease.

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Q&A Text Summary
  1. How do you get farmers to admit to having clubroot, or allow people on their land to test for it?

  • This is a big problem, especially in areas without regulated best management practices. People don’t want to admit they have clubroot
  • Dan doesn’t legally have to tell anyone that you have clubroot
  • If the county regulations were the same as Dan’s best practices, they could have the county/ RM come and inspect and easily go through the list of steps
  • Some county/RM will actually come destroy a crop if canola is grown sooner than the regulated rotation period
  • People will be more likely to come forward if they trust their county/RM has steps to help them regulate and choose best practices
  • Simply being told to wait for a canola rotation doesn’t help with preventing spreading of clubroot. Rotation is a relatively minor factor in controlling the spread of clubroot.
  • Thankfully, farmers are starting to come forward now because the regulations are becoming more educated and aligned with science and farming practices, they don’t feel they will be regulated out of business.
  1. I feel the County/RM does not have the education level to dictate how I run my farm. Is there someone from the Canola Council who can make these decisions instead?

  • Provincial specialists (Barb Zeisman: SK clubroot specialist) are good resources
  • Dan Orchard or any Canola Council agronomist would be willing to help
  • There is a multitude of information available online from these organizations that will give you steps to help prevent spreading clubroot.
  • Proactive management (prevent it before it happens) is the best thing you can do to help prevent the spread.
  • Resistant variety canola BEFORE you are tested positive for clubroot will prevent the spore load from exploding to high numbers in your soil, and reduce the amount of spores that can be spread to others.
  1. Is clubroot inevitable?

  • Yes.
  • If we had strict regulations on every single farm, we could perhaps control this. However, spores are spread in the wind, from animal tracks, through straw dust, hay, or anything that moves dust.
  • We can only do our best to slow the spread by taking the proper measures within our own control.
  • Preventative measures BEFORE you are infected are very important to protecting the entire area/ RM.
  1. About 6 months ago, SARM (Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities) had a project to hire some “super rat men”, whose big responsibility was to beat clubroot. Clubroot, Beavers and Rats were the big priorities as I recall, but I haven’t heard anything since.

  • Dan has never heard of this
  • Maybe they have a different role with clubroot – maybe educational?
  1. Great protocol for Sask producers under the provincial clubroot managers plan – land owners work to develop a plan based on science based standards. Thoughts?

  • This is a great movement.
  • Smokey Lake Clubroot policy: a great resource you can use on your farm, which lists all the management techniques you can use. IF you were to check every box, you could eliminate clubroot. However this is unrealistic, and just taking as many steps as you can is the best thing you can do.
  • Dan and the Canola Council can also provide a checklist to help you decide which steps you are capable to take on your own farm.
  • The more steps you can take/ boxes you can check, the safer your farm is.
  • The Smokey Lake policy is being adopted by many other county/RM’s
  • Specialists/Canola Council can assist in explaining why each step is helpful and which steps are suited to your individual farming practices.
  1. Is there a #1 thing we should do to prevent clubroot, or is it an accumulative practice involving many parts?

  • Analogy: proactive steps are like eating healthy and exercising. If you take these steps before the doctor tells you to, you likely won’t end up at the doctor’s. By this point, you’re already behind.
  • The best thing to do is PREVENT the introduction of clubroot to your farm. It may still come, but you will know that it was not brought to your farm by anything you have done.
  • If any surveyors, oil & gas, hydro etc. come on to your land, make sure they are also cleaning and preventing the spread of soils to and from your property.
  • Two biggest goals: Keep clubroot out of your farm as long as possible by taking as many of the steps that you can. If and once clubroot does arrive on your farm, do weverything you can to prevent spreading and keep the spore count as low as possible.
  1. Whose responsibility is it to follow the best practices?

  • Absolutely, the growers. It’s their land, their future, their livelihood.
  • There are a handful of fields that actually cannot grow canola anymore. These are places that have not followed ANY of the best practices, and this was before resistant varieties. There was no way to reduce spore loads. These spores have actually developed strains beyond what we can do with resistant varieties, and this land should basically be untouched. Unfortunately, the science was not in place at this time to tell us how to prevent this.
  • Find a 3rd crop sooner than later to add to your rotation. Prepare this now within your logistics to avoid becoming stuck down the road and losing money on the wrong crop.
  1. What about the responsibility of input retailers, agronomists, dealers, RM’s etc?

  • Of course, not to blatantly spread clubroot and do their part.
  • Custom applicators/ services provided are hired by the farmer. As the farmer you need to assess the risk/ and decide if outside equipment is worth bringing to your farm in your area. It may cost more to have the custom applicators thoroughly clean before coming to your property.
  • It is also up to the Custom Applicators to do their best not to blatantly spread. They may need to organize their time so that clubroot regions are sprayed last, or on a Monday after the equipment is cleaned on Sunday, etc. Farmers need to take into account this extra time that may be needed to safely bring in outside equipment.
  • The world isn’t going to stop to prevent this. There are so many outside factors that can bring clubroot in no matter how much you do to prevent it. So just understand that some actions bring a higher risk, and decide if that risk is worth it.
  1. What has happened to the Custom business in AB since the discovery of clubroot?

  • Retails have moved clubroot around. Even Dan has moved clubroot around before we really knew what clubroot was, while weigh-wagoning wheat. The dust dumped from the weigh wagon would leave a patch in the soil that would be spread around the field afterwards. Nobody had any idea that clubroot could move around that freely, in another crop year.
  • Everybody is responsible not to spread soil and mud from field to field
  • Some retails in clubroot regions don’t do soil sampling when its muddy. The time to wait is worth it to prevent spreading clubroot.
  • Some Counties still don’t believe they have a clubroot problem even though they have tested positive in places.
  1. Is there a sanitation protocol that industry reps should follow? – dirt removal, bleach, cleaning between farms?

  • It is up to the farmer/grower to decide if a rep can move between THEIR fields without washing, but not between fields of different farms.
  • Talk to the grower before you go on their land.
  • Farmers/agronomists hear sanitation and think bleach and scrubbing – not accurate.
  • “It’s OK to not do EVERYTHING, but it’s not OK to do NOTHING.”
  • Even taking 20 mins to knock off the dirt clumps from equipment before you leave a field might reduce your risk up to 80%.
  • Each additional step can reduce the risk by an extra small percentage.
  • By the time you get down to bleaching equipment, the percentage that risk is reduced isn’t very substantial, unless you are in a heavy clubroot area. Removal of mud and dirt is the biggest factor.
  1.  We have a customer that borrows a liquid wagon from us every spring, in an RM that has confirmed clubroot. What should we ask him to do as a retail, should we not rent to him?

  • That’s really up to the retail. I would suggest that when the retail goes to pick up the wagon, they clean the wagon IN the guys field to prevent that initial mud and dirt spreading, and then take it back to the shop and do a thorough cleaning.
  • Not renting equipment might not be a long term solution, as clubroot could be in any field that has not been tested, and may well be in every RM/County in the future. WE can only take as much precaution as possible.
  • Do your best to clean it, there is never 100% certainty that there are no spores. If the product and machine are clean the risk is very low.
  • Be open with farmers and customers that equipment has been used in a clubroot area, and that you have taken XYZ procedures to prevent spreading contamination.
  • It may be a good idea to look at the checklists we have discussed and give customers a cleaning procedure to follow before they return equipment.
  • Step 1: remove as much dirt as possible. This is the most important and most effective step.
  • Step 2: Use pressurized air or water to blast away residual/hard to reach dirt
  • Step 3: Use the correct concentration of bleach to sanitize the equipment, by saturating for 20 minutes.

  2. Equipment and Sales Demos?

  • Many farmers have claimed that demos have given them clubroot.
  • Combines can carry clubroot spores during a wheat rotation and spread it in the combine dust
  • Think critically before bringing a combine from AB to MB. It is very hard to get all of the dust out of the combine during cleaning, so assess the risk and know which area it is coming from.
  • Don’t clean your combine in the field where the contaminated dust might spread around – clean your combine in the shop and then clean the shop.

  • Use clubroot resistant varieties BEFORE clubroot shows up.
  •  It is very hard to test confidently for clubroot until it has already taken over. By the time that spores are detectable above the ground, it is already absolutely infested and has undoubtedly spread around the area. If you deploy the resistance before the spore-loads skyrocket, they will never have to chance to do so. Any downsides that may be a concern about clubroot resisitant varieties, are far outweighed by the concerns of spreading clubroot. However, there is not enough of this seed to realistically use on every farm. If you are in an area, or near an area, that has been identified with clubroot, you absolutely need to do this.
  • Reduce Soil Movement. Make sure so foreign soil and potentially contaminated soil comes to your own farm.
  • Control volunteer crops and host weeds.
  • There can be 16 billion spores in a single plant.
  • Crop rotation is important, yet is still below these 3 in importance.
  1. Extras:

  • Some farmers have started growing grass at the entrances to the field to help brush the dirt off of any vehicle that enters. This also gives everyone a place to park and to clean equipment without dumping any contaminants directly back onto the crop.

Clubroot Resources

Tissue Testing Webinar

Dan and Terry Aberhart collaborate with Elston Solberg on this information-packed webinar on Tissue Testing.

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Tissue Testing Resources