Canada has long been a leader in pulse crop production. A lot of what we know and use in the United States comes from their experiences and research. We are joined today by Dale Risula. Dale is the Provincial Specialist for pulse crops and other specialty crops with the Ministry of Agriculture based in Saskatchewan and he echoes the significance of crop rotation in pulses. 

“If you grow any one particular crop too frequently, then the pathogens tend to build out and that’s when they become a problem. So having a good rotation in place and keeping to it is something that can help alleviate that problem.” – Dale Risula

He highlights build up of pathogens and rotating crops presents a “major problem” in Saskatchewan. Dale hopes that new adaptive breeding efforts will allow for other crops such as chickpeas to be introduced to new areas creating longer rotations and more options for producers. The pathogens of concern include ascochyta, anthracnose, and chocolate spot among others.

“Every crop has their own ascochyta pathogen. So it’s not as if it’s all one beast and there is quite a bit of difference in how they behave. So you have to be aware of that.” – Dr. Sabine Banniza

Dr. Sabine Banniza is a Professor of Plant Pathology in the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Center. She shares that differentiating these pathogens especially ascochyta and anthracnose can be difficult. Fortunately for producers, some of the treatments are the same. Dr. Banniza recommends scouting fields early on to prevent a “major epidemic.” Fungicide application is best performed at the 8 to 9 node stage to allow for best penetration of the plant canopy. However, presence of a foliar disease does not automatically indicate a treatment is needed. 

“One of the challenges of these diseases is that we simply can’t count and determine a threshold like we would maybe for an insect pest or a weed.” – Dr. Sabine Banniza

Because of this, recommendations can sound more “wishy washy” according to Dr. Banniza. The presence of disease is not enough indication for intervention. The Fungicide Decision Support Checklist can help producers determine the need for intervention with fungicides. By working through this list, factors such as crop history, weather forecast and canopy density can be evaluated and a risk assessment produced. Dr. Banniza also highlights that infected seed can inoculate fields with these pathogens creating a high pathogen burden from the onset of crop development. There are tolerable amounts of infection that will likely not affect the crop but each crop has different rates of tolerance. Dr. Banniza recommends evaluating risk factors to allow for more targeted fungicide use and hopefully reduce the fungicide resistance that appears to be developing. 

This Week on Growing Pulse Crops:

Growing Pulse Crops Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

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