Roots of a canola plant infested with clubroot galls. The crop disease reduces yield and has been spreading across Alberta. Photo from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Roots of a canola plant infested with clubroot galls. The crop disease reduces yield and has been spreading across Alberta. Photo from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Clubroot continues to spread in Alberta

Lacombe County found clubroot in 17 of 49 fields tested in 2019

A disease that attacks the roots of canola and similar plants continues to march south.

In Lacombe County, 17 of 49 fields tested were confirmed with the disease that attacks the roots of canola, mustard seed and other cruciferous plants. That brings the number of fields contaminated to 98 since the county began monitoring for the disease in 2008.

County manager of agriculture and environment Dion Burlock updated county council on the disease, which was first detected in the Edmonton area and has now reached as far as Newell County, which surrounds Brooks, southeast of Calgary.

That it continues to show up in Lacombe County comes as no surprise, said Burlock.

“We did find clubroot in the county, which was what was expected,” he said. “We know it’s a pest that’s present and it’s still moving around.

“We continue to see spread in the province.”

The number of contaminated fields was up from last year, although 2019 had lower numbers than some previous years, although more fields were tested in those years. The poor conditions that plagued farmers at harvest time also interfered with clubroot testing.

“In wet field conditions, we don’t do a lot of inspections. We wait for the conditions to improve before we enter on to properties.”

Research continues in Alberta on ways to combat the disease, which stops the plant from growing properly.

“The University of Alberta has really been a leader in Western Canada and Canada on this issue,” said Burlock.

To hinder the spread of the disease, Lacombe County developed a policy that requires farmers to take a two-year break from planting canola, mustard or other cruciferous crops if an infestation is found on a field larger than 40 acres.

Clubroot-resistant canola must be planted afterward.

The latest clubroot map for Alberta, which covers up to 2018, shows Lacombe as a county with more than 50 fields identified as having clubroot, the same as a dozen other counties running up the centre of the province as far north as Athabasca County. Clearwater, Red Deer, Ponoka and Stettler counties are listed as having 10 to 49 fields infested.

Agriculture