Clubroot surfaces in Stettler County

The dreaded clubroot has raised its ugly head in the County of Stettler.

The dreaded clubroot has raised its ugly head in the County of Stettler.

Quinton Beaumont, director of agricultural services with the County of Stettler, has confirmed three fields within county boundaries have been found to contain the soil borne disease that affects canola plants.

Beaumont considers the infestation low, with the amount of canola grown in the county.

He said clubroot is a serious but controllable disease.

Clubroot has been previously found in the neighbouring counties of Lacombe, Red Deer, Camrose, Ponoka and Flagstaff.

“It is not surprising that clubroot — that is spread so easily — would eventually turn up within our borders,” Beaumont said.

Although the soil borne disease can be spread by wind or animals, it’s more commonly transferred by machinery and vehicles.

Clubroot causes the roots of canola plants to mutate and swell, restricting absorption of water and nutrients, eventually killing the plant.

Canola is an important cash crop, and Beaumont said the county is able to help farmers protect their livelihood.

“Your land is your life,” he said.

“Council is very conscious of the importance of canola to our agriculture industry and, as a result, we are concerned about the impact clubroot will have on all canola farmers,” said Wayne Nixon, the reeve of the County of Stettler.

“We are committed to working together with every farmer in the county to protect our agricultural industry.”

The county follows the provincial management plan of testing one field per township annually.

Now that clubroot has been found, Beaumont said the county might consider boosting the number of fields sampled.

Beaumont said that in the recent clubroot case, it was a farmer who suspected the disease and brought it to the county’s attention.

Management is key to eradicating or at least keeping the disease to a minimum. Beaumont strongly recommended carefully-managed rotations where plants in the canola-mustard family are not grown more than once every four years on a particular field.

Seeding clubroot resistant varieties of canola is encouraged and careful cleaning of equipment before moving to a different field is considered a good preventative measure.

Awareness workshops will be held in the coming months to advise farmers on the best way to minimize the chances of contracting the disease.

If farmers have questions or want the county’s agricultural services staff to check a field for clubroot, they’re advised to contact Beaumont at 403-742-4441.

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