Posts Tagged ‘Alberta’

Update on Clubroot in Alberta

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Clubroot first appeared in Alberta in home gardens in the 1970s. In 2003, the disease was found in canola in 12 fields in Sturgeon County, northwest of Edmonton. From that time, a number of surveys have been conducted to monitor this disease. To date, over 6000 canola and vegetable fields have been surveyed, and clubroot has been confirmed in at least 830 fields in the province. Maps showing the affected areas and the spread of the disease over the years have been uploaded to the Alberta Agriculture website.
“Clubroot is an endemic disease, certainly in central Alberta,” says Dr. Ron Howard, plant pathology research scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “The disease is spreading by a variety of mechanisms and management is difficult. The number of new cases in 2011 (265 fields), represents the biggest single year increase in clubroot confirmed fields since 2003. The abundant rainfall we received last year was no doubt a contributing factor that favoured infection and disease development. Weather conditions have a huge effect on this disease, so in years, such as last year, where conditions are very wet, the incidence of the disease increases.”

Clubroot is a significant economic threat to the canola industry and was included as a declared pest under the Agricultural Pests Act in 2007. The disease is very difficult to control once it becomes established in a field. It decreases yield in canola and also poses a risk to mustard and cole crop vegetables in the province.

Clubroot management strategies include:

  • removing soil and crop debris from equipment and machinery moving out of infested fields
  • using direct seeding or minimum-tillage cropping methods, which reduces the movement of soil during tillage operations and reduces stirring the soil and the spread of the disease
  • using long rotations between successive crops of canola to allow the pathogen population to decline in the interval
  • avoiding spreading straw, hay, greenfeed, silage crops harvested from clubroot infested fields onto clean fields because of earth tag which can carry the disease
  • NOT spreading manure from cattle fed with clubroot infested crops or forages on non-infested fields, as resting spores can survive passage through the gut of cattle
  • NOT using common, untreated seed harvested from clubroot infested fields because of the possibility of dust and earth tag that may contain clubroot spores, and certainly dirty seed should be avoided
  • regularly scouting canola, mustard and vegetable fields to discern the situation in the field and ensure that the disease isn’t spreading

“The advent of clubroot-resistant hybrids represents a major step forward in clubroot management,” says Howard. “The six products available seem to be standing up fairly well in clubroot infested areas. These varieties, while not completely resistant to clubroot, are not overwhelmed by the disease and yield is not reduced. It is very important to realize that even though a resistant variety is used, crop rotations of three years or more are still necessary to help slow the build-up of this disease in infested fields.”

Research is ongoing. Early on, there was very limited information on how to manage the disease in canola. Control strategies from vegetable growers were not that directly transferable. This prompted a whole line of research to look at disease management practices and to help understand the biology of the disease in canola. In 2009, the Clubroot Risk Mitigation Initiative was created using about $4 million in Growing Forward funding. This collaborative research has focused on pathology, breeding and disease management.

“An integrated approach is needed to manage this disease, including good stewardship of the resistant varieties of canola that are available,” says Howard.

Additional information on clubroot, including AgriFax and factsheets, is available on Alberta’s website at by typing clubroot into the search field.

Moisture Situation Update

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

From Agri-News

Most of Alberta has been experiencing unusually warm and dry winter weather, with temperatures and snowpack accumulations for some areas at record extremes over the entire period of observation (1961-2011).
60-day temperatures relative to normal as of January 8, 2012

  • Over the past 60-days (November 10, 2011 to January 8, 2012), average daily temperatures relative to normal are classified as being at least 1-in-12-year highs across most of the province, with several areas being the warmest during the 51-year period of observation (1961-2011).

60-day precipitation accumulations relative to normal as of January 8, 2012

  • Over the same 60-day period, precipitation accumulations are estimated to be at least 1-in-3-year lows for most areas east of Highway 2, with parts of east-central Alberta being the driest during the entire period of observation (1961-2011).

Snowpacks relative to long-term normal as of January 8, 2012

  • Warm weather has also lead to unseasonable snowpack losses, with many areas east of Highway 2 and south of the Yellowhead Highway classified as being, at least, in 12-year lows, with large parts of east central Alberta not seeing snowpacks this low during the entire 1961-2011 observation period.

“To put this information into perspective, across Alberta’s agricultural areas, the six-month period, between October and March, is Alberta’s dry season and only accounts for about 24 to 30 per cent of average annual precipitation, ranging from about 100 mm across the central region to upwards of 140 mm across the Peace region,” says Ralph Wright, soil moisture specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “A dry winter receiving only 50 per cent of average precipitation accumulations amounts to a deficit of 50 to 70 mm. However, this can easily be made up in the spring or early summer, with above average accumulations.”

February is typically the driest month of the year across the agricultural areas of Alberta, with 50-year averages ranging from 5 to 10 mm across parts of the Special Areas, to 20 to 30 mm across much of the Peace Region.

“It is very difficult to reliably predict what the remainder of the winter will be like,” says Wright. “History has shown that Alberta is a land of extremes, and dramatic swings between prolonged dry, wet, warm and cold periods are not uncommon.”

Additional maps can be found at

Near-real-time hourly station data can be viewed and downloaded at

Note: Data has about a two-hour delay and is displayed in MST.

Ralph Wright

Clubroot management: Equipment sanitation - Part 1

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

From Canola Council of Canada

The most common way to transfer soil from field to field is on farm machinery and vehicle tires. The CCC has a new guide with tips to clean equipment and prevent clubroot’s spread. Click here for the full guide. The following article is a short summary of the guide. Visit for general information on clubroot.

Assess your risk

The following questions will help determine the risk of clubroot spread to your farm, or from field to field within your farm. Your answers will help you decide how much sanitation you need and when to use it.

—Do you already have clubroot in at least one field? If yes, thorough sanitation between each field may be warranted.
—Have you purchased used equipment that may have originated in clubroot infested areas? (Here’s the latest Alberta clubroot map.) If the equipment originates from a clubroot-infested area, make sure the equipment is sanitized before it comes to your farm.
—Has your equipment been used in fields in clubroot-infested areas? If so, it should be cleaned and disinfected before it comes back to your farm.
—Who has access to your land? Custom sprayers and seeders, oil and gas equipment and trucks, earth-moving and excavating machines, soil sampling trucks, fertilizer trucks, hunters, recreational vehicles and even agronomists can carry clubroot-infested soil on tires, machinery and shoes. Make sure they follow clubroot risk mitigation protocols.
—Do you use tillage? Tillage or any other farm practice that involves soil disturbance or results in frequent travel throughout a field will increase the risk of transporting clubroot-infested soil.

3 steps for equipment sanitation

Choosing a worksite. You should clean and disinfect the unit before leaving the field, and leave all contaminated soil in that field. A low-traffic grassed area near the field exit is an ideal place to sanitize equipment .

Step 1: Scraping and blowing can remove 90% of the soil on machinery.

Step 1: Rough cleaning. Use a hand scraper, wire brush or compressed air to remove loose and clinging soil and crop debris from openers, tires and wheels, and the frame. This should remove at least 90% of the soil from the unit. Time required: 1-2 hours for a 40 foot cultivator. Larger pieces of equipment, tractors and double disk units may take longer.

Step 2: Pressure washing can remove another 9% of soil.

Step 2: Fine cleaning. Use a pressure washer at 2,000 to 3,000 psi on all areas where soil can accumulate. Turbo nozzles are generally more effective at removing soil than regular nozzles. An industrial detergent may enhance the degree of soil removal. Steps 1 and 2 in combination should remove 99% of soil from the unit. Time required: 1-2 hours for a 40 foot cultivator. (2-4 hours total for steps 1 and 2.)

New Invasive Plant Shows Up in Alberta

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

From Agri-News

There is a new invasive hawkweed in the province. Tall Hawkweed (Hieracium piloselloides) has shown up in the Hinton area. While this invasive plant has been found in B.C. and Montana, this is the first report of its presence in Alberta.

“While these hawkweeds do lack stolons, it still is considered invasive through rhizomes,” says Nicole Kimmel, weed specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “This discovery of another invasive hawkweed will need to be monitored closely.

“All suspect Meadow Hawkweed (Hieracium caespitosum) sightings will now be scrutinized, as both Meadow and Tall Hawkweed can be easily confused. Although Tall Hawkweed is not yet regulated under the Weed Control Act, due to its invasiveness we would encourage eradication, if possible, when found.”

Meadow Hawkweed (Hieracium caespitosum)
Found in Alberta, Introduced, Invasive
Tall Hawkweed (Hieracium piloselloides)
Found in Alberta, Introduced, Invasive
Stolons and rhizomes present but only after flowering
has been initiated
20-50 Yellow flowers in compact, flat-topped cluster
All surfaces of leaf have hairs
Lacks stolons
11-20 Yellow flowers in open, round topped cluster
Can reach 40-90 cm in height
Hairs isolated to leaf margins and along midvein

Clubroot Infested Areas in Alberta in 2011

Friday, November 4th, 2011

From Alberta Canola Producers Commission

Clubroot is a serious soil-borne disease of canola and is considered a declared pest under Alberta’s Agricultural Pests Act. It is not a new disease in Canada or Alberta; however, it is just in the last few years that it has been found in a number of counties in Alberta. Clubroot continues to spread and is a significant concern for Alberta producers.

download a printable pdf version of the map

for more information on clubroot visit

Additional information regarding Clubroot Disease of Canola and Mustard is available on-line from Alberta Agriculture

For more information about the content of this document, contact Alberta’s Provincial Oilseed Specialist Murray Hartman.

Cumulative clubroot infestations as of November 2011 from University of Alberta, Alberta Agriculture and county surveys. November 2011 map is preliminary since the survey compilation is not quite complete.

Anaerobic Digester - Transforming Waste into Energy

Monday, October 31st, 2011

A Southern Alberta farm family is planning to build an Anaerobic Digester near Chin, Alberta. Converting waste into energy and utilizing the nutrients back on the land. Check out the video from FarmTV.

Alberta Agri-Food Exports, 2001 to 2010

Monday, September 19th, 2011

From Agri-News

According to the latest trade statistics released by Statistics Canada, Alberta exports of primary and processed agricultural and food products (agri-food) declined 9.6 per cent to $6.7 billion in 2010, from $7.4 billion in 2009. Nationally, Alberta accounted for 19.2 per cent of total Canadian agri-food exports ($35.8 billion). Alberta was the third largest exporter of agri-food products after Saskatchewan and Ontario. For a complete look at the Alberta numbers, you can view Alberta Agri-Food Exports, 2001 to 2010 at by entering the title in the search field.

Disaster Recovery Assistance Available for Severe Summer Weather

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

From Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development

The Alberta government is committing up to $34.2 million to help pay for uninsurable losses from flooding this summer. The cash is available to homeowners, small businesses, agricultural producers and municipalities. The province says the money is being divided between five regions that include southern, northern, northwestern and central Alberta, as well as the city of Calgary. Residents and business owners should first contact their insurance companies for a letter that outlines their uninsurable damage. Photographs should also be taken. Dates and locations of registration centres will be posted at An additional $450,000 will be available to Red Deer County, the County of Vermilion River and the Municipal District of Wainwright to help cover cleanup and emergency operations costs following windstorms in July.

Wheat Midge Surveyors in Your Fields in September

Monday, August 29th, 2011

From Agri-News

Midge is now found throughout central and southern Alberta and there are pockets of moderate to high midge risk through much of the area. Last growing season, producers throughout the central and southern Alberta were advised to monitor their fields carefully during this growing season for wheat midge. This advise was based on the 2010 fall survey.
“The 2010 fall survey sampling included almost all municipalities in central and southern Alberta,” says Scott Meers, provincial specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “We will be starting the 2011 wheat midge survey in mid-September. This year’s survey will necessitate taking soil samples from farmers’ fields throughout central and southern Alberta. That means that surveyors will be entering fields to take samples. Farmers are asked to understand that surveyors will be gathering samples for this research which will be of benefit to them. In southern Alberta, surveyors will be surveying for wheat stem sawfly at the same time.”

This surveying is not intended to take the place of individual field monitoring but it does provide information for a general forecast of wheat midge risk for 2012.

“It is important to note that once midge has established in an area, it is unlikely to ever completely disappear,” says Meers. “Low lying and moist areas in a field provide a refuge, enabling the population to survive even when conditions are not favourable in the rest of the field. These low level populations, however, also help sustain a population of natural enemies.

“Parasitism of midge larvae by small wasps (Macroglens penetrans) has been important in keeping wheat midge populations below the economic threshold. These beneficial wasps tend to thrive in warm, dry conditions. Parasite populations will ultimately rise and fall with changes in the midge populations and are very important in managing population levels in Alberta. The forecast is adjusted for parasitism found while assessing the survey results.”

The wheat midge survey is conducted by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development with assistance from Lakeland Applied Research Association, Battle River Research Group, Chinook Applied Research Association, County of Leduc, Mountain View County, and the Municipal District of Wainwright. All samples will be processed by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development with financial support from Dow AgriScience.

For more information on wheat midge and for questions about the survey, contact the Ag-Info Centre at 310-FARM (3276). The 2010 survey results can be viewed online at$department/deptdocs.nsf/All/prm13417

Information on the 2011 survey and the 2012 forecast should be ready in early January 2012.

Issues of the week

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

From Canola Council of Canada

Lygus populations continue to be high and exceed thresholds in parts of Alberta and Manitoba. Many young nymphs are being found and crops are nearing the end of the susceptible stage so management decisions are being made on a field-by-field basis. Pay attention to pre-harvest intervals (time between application and cutting) this late in the growing season. Once a crop is within 7 days of being swathed, no insecticides can be applied. Click here for more information on product pre-harvest intervals.

Hail events throughout the growing season in parts of Alberta and northwestern Saskatchewan have resulted in significant regrowth as fields recover. Many fields now have two or three distinct stages (e.g. some plants beginning to show signs of seed colour change while others are still in full flower) making time-to-swath decisions tricky. No blanket recommendation can be given and growers will have to evaluate on a field-by-field basis.

As we pass the middle of August, the length of frost free days remaining in the growing season comes to mind. Late crops and late stages within fields are being assessed for production potential to help with management decisions, such as insect control and swath timing.