MINOT, N.D. — Dry conditions and following recommended production practices combined to result in a canola production year in which disease pressures were relatively low in North Dakota.
Planting resistant cultivars, longer crop rotations, using seed treatments and rotating cultivars are preferred production practices that helped reduce disease in the 2023 canola crop, said Venkat Chapara, North Dakota State University Langdon Research Extension Center plant pathologist.
Chapara was one of several NDSU Extension and U.S. Agriculture Department Agricultural Research Service researchers who spoke at the first day of the 2023 Crop Outlook and International Durum Forum held Nov. 1-2 in Minot.
North Dakota farmers planted 1.9 million acres of canola in 2023, a 6% increase over 2022, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Oct. 12 crop production report.
The state’s production is estimated at an average of 1,790 pounds per acres, 30 pounds per acre less than 2022 average yields, NASS said. Total North Dakota production is estimated at 3.4 billion pounds, up from 3.25 billion in 2023.
The diseases of blackleg — which is the most prevalent in North Dakota canola — sclerotinia stem rot and clubroot have caused millions of dollars in damage to canola over the years.
Planting resistant cultivars, seed treatments and rotating canola with other crops are among recommendations by NDSU to reduce blackleg disease in the crop. The highest amount of ascospores are produced in the second year of canola residues, so planting it every other year should be avoided in fields where blackleg is a problem, NDSU said.
A three-year rotation is “very beneficial,” Chapara said.
Though conditions were dry during the 2023 growing season, farmers were encouraged to do one application of fungicides on their canola fields to prevent sclerotinia stem rot, commonly known as white mold.
Without the fungicide application, white mold is a threat to canola even during dry years.
“No matter what, you’re going to get this disease in small spots,” Chapara said.
Spraying to control white mold is recommended when from 20% to 50% of the canola is flowering.
Clubroot, another on the list of canola diseases for which North Dakota farmers should be watchful, was found in Cavalier County again this year after having first been found there in 2013. However, Chapara said it has not spread to any other counties in those 10 years.
Symptoms of clubroot include wilting, stunting, reduced seed production, a thin stand and premature plant death, according to NDSU. But visible symptoms don’t always occur above ground and symptoms that are above ground can look like other plant illnesses such as stress from drought or flooding and diseases, including blackleg and sclerotinia.
Planting clubroot resistant canola varieties and lengthening crop rotations help reduce the incidence of clubroot, Chapara said. Surveys showed that rotations reduced the number of diseased fields in Cavalier County from 31 in 2018 to a handful in 2023, he said.
Canadian research found that switching from a one-in-two-year rotation to one-in-three, such as planting soybeans, wheat and canola in rotation, reduced spore loads by 90%, Chapara said.
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