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Clubroot Confirmed in Wheatland County

The first occurrence of Clubroot was recently confirmed in two fields in the southwestern portion of Wheatland County.  Clubroot is a soil-borne disease that can be found on Brassica/Cruciferous crops and was first recorded in Europe in the 13th century. The first Canola crop infested with Clubroot was detected in 2003 in a Canola field northwest of Edmonton.  The roots of infected plants become galled and reduce the flow of nutrients and water throughout the plant. This can result in weaker plants that are wilted and/or stunted causing reduced yields.  Severely infected crops may exhibit 100% yield loss in extreme cases.  

Clubroot is a unique organism that has characteristics found in the plant, animal, and fungal families and it is classified as a protist.  It is an obligate parasite meaning that it cannot complete its lifecycle without a host plant.  Clubroot spores have a half-life of about 4 years but spores may live in the soil for up to 15 – 20 years.

Wheatland County has an active, annual Clubroot survey program that starts in late summer and may continue into the fall.  Staff take care to follow best practices regarding sanitation when performing these surveys; such as changing booties and cleaning off any soil debris with a bleach solution, not parking vehicles where soil may stick to any surface, and avoid surveying in wet conditions.  Pest inspectors have the authority to enter at any reasonable hour on any land (Agricultural Pests Act of Alberta 17(2)). Most surveys are conducted in the field entrances where it is believed that infestations start about 90% of the time.

Now that we know Clubroot is in the County, we need to mitigate the impact and spread of the disease.  Clubroot is mainly spread through the movement of soil containing Clubroot spores, typically transported on vehicles and equipment or through soil erosion.  Ways to minimize the spread and impact of Clubroot include: seeding Clubroot resistant varieties, crop rotation, regular field scouting, managing brassica/cruciferous weeds, and sanitizing/washing equipment.

For more information please contact the Wheatland County Agriculture & Environment department at 403-934-3321 or agandenv@wheatlandcounty.ca

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