CCA, Ag Fieldman
M.D. of Smoky River No. 130
A local producer called me the other day to express his concern with what he sees as a total lack of understanding on the part of hunters coming into the area. And though it’s true the primary concern is people coming in and importing new crop diseases or weed seeds on their ATV’s and pickups, it’s a valid concern for local enthusiasts as well.
The producer’s main concern was Clubroot. Clubroot is a soil borne disease that affects the brassica family, so for our area it’s a huge potential issue for the production of canola.
I think most area producers would agree that if their farm was limited in how often they could rotate into canola, say requiring a one-in-four or one-in-five year canola rotation, they would find themselves to be economically unviable, or at the very least severely disadvantaged. Canola is an extremely important crop to the bottom line of most area producers.
Clubroot kills canola, the spores can remain viable in the soil for up to 20 years and though Clubroot “resistant” varieties have been developed, pushing the rotation of those varieties has brought on very quick breakdown of that resistance.
Even with “resistant” varieties a one-in-four or one-in-five year rotation is advised.
Bringing equipment that has Clubroot spore infected soil on it is the most likely means of introducing this disease to a person’s field.
Certainly a Cat, farm tractor, combine or air drill that may have hundreds of pounds of soil on it is a more worrisome carrier.
But a piece of soil the size of a Smartie can have thousands of spores in it.
The disease could be introduced and started with that small amount of soil; it would just take longer to be noticeably impacting yields.
And how quickly that would happen, depends greatly on the environment (Clubroot loves moisture, especially wet springs) and the producers rotation, a tight canola rotation would speed up spore production and help the disease establish.
So, cleaning equipment prior to bringing it into an area is extremely important.
If it’s coming from a known infected area (heaviest infections are within about 160 km of Edmonton) then cleaning and disinfecting the equipment would be advisable.
For certain, people need to acquire permission before entry onto a property, but they should not be surprised these days especially to be refused permission, or at the very least have cleaning of equipment being insisted upon. Weed seed dispersal is also a concern with equipment including ATV’s so proper cleaning would be a benefit regardless of where the equipment is coming from.
The other issue to understand this year is the amount of crop left out, and the damage that can be done by vehicles driving on it.
Not only does the farmer lose the trampled crop, but ruts can become a nightmare for harvest equipment. Trampling swaths and even packing down the snow near grain bags can be an issue.
A packed trail in the field can enable wildlife to get close to grain bags or bales left out, which can cause significant financial loss.
Use respect, don’t enter onto properties without permission, and if you are denied permission understand there are reasons, this is a person’s livelihood that is at stake.
If you have any questions, please call me at (780) 837-0043, or email me at asb@ mdsmokyriver.com; or send a Tweet to @MDfieldman.