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Canola Fields Needed for Study

News article

Canola growers can help further the study of blackleg fungus that can lead to improved ways to prevent it in crops.

A study led by University of Manitoba’s Dr. Dilantha Fernando and collaborators Dr. Gary Peng of AAFC in Saskatoon and Ralph Lange of Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures, Vegreville hopes to identify the avirulence genes in field populations of the blackleg fungus.

The study will also look at how they change overtime and in response to cultivar choice and the effects of agronomic practices on fungal populations.

This information is key to design strategies to control breakdown of blackleg resistance among Canadian canola cultivars. In order to get a good picture of the fungal populations, researchers need to look at approximately 20 fields in Alberta over a four-year period.

The study needs fields seeded with a range of cultivars across of range of environments, from the Peace to the USA border. The study is short of fields in southern Alberta (defined as Calgary to the border) and therefore, needs about 15 – 20 fields located anywhere from Highway 1 to Medicine Hat, Taber, Lethbridge and west and south.

For the study purposes, the researchers need fields seeded to canola this year of different varieties. The landowners/growers must be willing to let study personnel access the field and collect plant and crop residue samples. They will attempt to find blackleg either on the crop or in crop residues. Collection trips will take place once or twice a year to collect plant and residue samples.

Collection involves walking into the field and collecting a hundred or so stems, plus residue samples (old stem bases) along a “w” shaped pattern. For some of the fields, the study would also like to collect additional residues for use as inoculum for a similar project that will develop canola cultivar resistance groups (also a tool for cultivar selection and resistance management) – these additional samples would amount to something like one or two garbage bags full per field.

Collectors follow biosafety protocols to prevent introduction of invasive organisms like clubroot. These measures include booties/rubber boots, never driving in fields, disinfecting between fields, etc.

The study doesn’t dictate what crop or variety follows in years 2 – 4 of the study and, in fact, wants samples from a range of grower practices. Study collaborators will contact the growers to get agronomic data (fertility, pest control, etc).

Growers will receive annual summaries of field findings. The study will also provide growers with laboratory results regarding blackleg fungus gene profile virulence from their fields, but with the caveat that the data will be difficult to interpret and shouldn’t be used to make management decisions. It may take more than a year to receive lab data.

Project collaborators will share data from individual field, but will only publish data in anonymous or aggregated forms, to protect the privacy of field sites and grower identities.

To offer fields for the study, please contact Dr. Aliaa El-mezawy, Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures, 780-632-8225,


Created July 7, 2014 | Category: Agronomy

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