The Canada and Manitoba governments have provided $250,000 in research funding and $969,000 for equipment to help identify and address problems caused by canola diseases and pests, Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister Ron Kostyshyn, announced recently.
Research funding is provided under Growing Forward 2 – Growing Actions and will be used to take samples from across the province to determine the presence of clubroot. A new web-based biosecurity questionnaire and risk assessment for producers will also be developed with these funds.
The equipment installed at the newly-opened Pest Surveillance Initiative (PSI) lab in Winnipeg includes a polymerase chain reaction machine (qPCR), which can be used to identify low levels of clubroot in submitted soil samples, and gene sequence and analysis equipment to track how clubroot strains may change over time.
The PSI is managed by the Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) with additional support provided by the Manitoba government. MCGA has invested another $130,000 in the lab and its research on behalf of their members.
While clubroot is the initial focus of the PSI lab's work, other projects of interest to Manitoba farmers are expected to begin later in 2015. PSI currently employs a lab director and has field staff with specialized training on sampling and lab analysis. They have also launched an internship program for student researchers to work on projects in the PSI facility.
Clubroot is a serious disease affecting crops like canola and mustard as well as cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. It restricts the flow of water and nutrients to the plant, causing wilting, stunting and yellowed plants, which ultimately result in lower yields and lower values for the producer. In 2011, soil samples from two unrelated fields in Manitoba tested positive for the presence of clubroot DNA.
Since that time, about two per cent of Manitoba's fields have been sampled to detect the presence of clubroot. Results are available at www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops under Plant Diseases.
The federal and provincial governments are investing $176 million in Manitoba under Growing Forward 2, a 5-year, federal-provincial-territorial policy framework to advance the agriculture industry, helping producers and processors become more innovative and competitive in world markets.
For more information about Growing Actions, go to www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/growing-forward-2 under Strategic Initiatives.