Today we discuss soil-borne and seed-borne diseases in pulse crops. We are joined by Chris Westergard a farmer in Montana, who gives us insight into what his operation looks like and how he manages these risks to his pulse crops. Then Dr. Michael Wunsch, a Plant Pathologist at the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center, shares some of the ongoing research and recommendations for combating these obstacles. Despite cold temperatures in Montana at the moment, Chris is turning his attention to his seed in preparation for planting. He evaluates his seed quality, germination and risk of Ascochyta.

“Ascochyta is by far the most prevalent and the most yield limiting in chickpeas. It can be in peas and lentils too….. But chickpeas seem to be way more susceptible to it.” – Chris Westergard

Chris highlights weed control, seed sources, soil temperatures and identifying the types of inoculant he needs to have ready as other preparation measures prior to planting. Dr. Wunsch echoes that advice citing research that confirms the effects of soil temperature and environmental conditions on pulse crop disease rates including Ascochyta, Pythium and Rhizoctonia. Unfortunately though Chris claims that “if everyone waited for optimal soil (temperatures) they’d never get anything done.” This leads to the use of seed treatments. 

“Anytime you’re planting into cold soils, you definitely want to have a seed treatment. When you’re planting relatively late, say the third week of May, and the soils are warm…..and not too wet… can probably get away with not treating the chickpeas.” -Dr. Michael Wunsch

But just as with anything in farming, it’s never simple. As Dr. Wunsch says “agronomic performance is a product of multiple factors.” His research has also explored the effects of early planting on root rot. He has found that “Early planting reduces the severity of your root rot and it reduces it by a lot.” 

“So planting date is a really, really important tool for managing these (diseases).” -Dr. Michael Wunsch

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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