New blackleg testing program in place

New blackleg testing program in place

Blackleg is a disease of canola that can cause significant yield losses in susceptible hybrids. In 2017 alone, blackleg resulted in $500 million in yield losses. Effectively monitoring blackleg builds confidence in canola export markets, particularly for importing countries that currently do not have blackleg species in their own canola producing regions.

This disease has been managed mostly by using resistant hybrids and extended crop rotations. However, over the past 10 years researchers have found evidence of increasingly virulent strains, resulting in a higher disease incidence in varieties that carry some of the commonly deployed resistant genetics. 

Sustainable blackleg management requires an integrated pest management strategy using the best agronomic practices to minimize yield loss and maintain the effectiveness of resistant canola hybrids. 

This year, SaskCanola is partnering with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture to expand our disease monitoring program to include blackleg. The first 200 registered canola growers who are apply are eligible for a FREE blackleg race ID test.

To select the most appropriate resistant hybrid variety, growers must know which blackleg races exist in their fields. 

How to submit your samples for testing 

Step 1: Collect canola plants suspected of blackleg infection following the Discovery Seed Labs Blackleg Sampling Protocol:

  • Sample at 60% seed colour change while plants are still green (swathing time). Cut just below the crown of the plant into the root material to assess. (If you see fibrous inner section of the stem, you’ve cut too high.)
  • Look for black discolouration at the base of the plant in the root tissue. If a stem looks infected, keep a 2-3 inch piece for testing. 
  • Sample 10 random stems, each several paces apart. 
  • Repeat in at least 3 areas spread across the field. 
  • Allow samples to air dry overnight before packaging to avoid excessive fungal growth. 
  • Keep notes on how many stems you surveyed, how many were infected, and in which field samples were collected. 
  • Calculate blackleg disease incidence. For example: In a field where 100 plants were surveyed (20 plants surveyed in each of 5 different areas) and 60 of them exhibited blackleg symptoms, there is a 60% blackleg incidence. The new Blackleg Yield Loss Calculator can help you determine yield loss.

Step 2: Email to receive a free blackleg testing code. Include the following information in your email to SaskCanola:

  • Identify yourself as either a Grower or an Agronomist
  • Full Name
  • Farm Name
  • Mailing Address
  • Land Location
  • RM
  • Valid email address to receive test results 

Step 3: Fill out the Discovery Seed Labs Blackleg Analysis Request Form.

STEP 4: Package air dried samples in a brown paper bag. Label the bag with the sample testing ID received from step 2 and sampling date. Mail to Discovery Seed Labs along with the Discovery Seed Labs Blackleg Analysis Request Form. 

Mailing address: Discovery Seed Labs, 450 Melville St, Saskatoon, SK S7J 4M2

RESULTS: SaskCanola will email you the test results, indicating the absence or presence of Leptosphaeria maculans, the aggressive species causing blackleg. If L. maculans is present, the races of the pathogen will also be identified. 

SaskCanola will share data with the Canola Council of Canada, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, and blackleg researchers, strictly for blackleg race monitoring research. Grower names and exact land locations will not be identified. 

Help manage blackleg in Saskatchewan to improve yields and maintain export markets. 

Additional blackleg resources:
Blackleg Yield Loss Calculator (developed in 2021)
Interpreting Blackleg Results 
Blackleg Management Guide 
Blackleg Best Management Practices 
Blackleg of Canola 

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