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THE IMPORTANCE OF CLUBROOT SCOUTING
Clubroot is a serious soil-borne disease of canola, mustard and other crops in the cabbage family.
Cole crop vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, kale,
kohlrabi, radish, rutabaga, and turnip are susceptible to clubroot, as are many cruciferous weeds
like wild mustard, stinkweed and shepherd’s purse.
As the name of this disease suggests, roots of infected plants may exhibit a club-like appearance.
However, overall symptoms will vary depending on the growth stage of the crop when it becomes
infected. Infection at the seedling stage can result in wilting, stunting and yellowing symptoms
by the late rosette to early podding stage, while premature ripening or death can be observed in
canola or mustard plants nearing maturity. Plants infected at later growth stages may not show
wilting, stunting or yellowing, but may still ripen prematurely and seeds may shrivel, thus reducing
yield and quality (oil content). The objective of the Clubroot Management Plan is to minimize yield
losses due to clubroot and reduce the further spread and buildup of clubroot in canola, mustard
and market garden vegetable fields in Alberta.
Michael Harding, a Research Scientist from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry tells us, “Harvest time
is an ideal time to scout for clubroot for two reasons. The first is that the disease symptoms have
reached their apex and they’re easy to spot by pulling up the roots. The second reason is that
for fields that are swathed, if you can get in during swathing, or right after the swather, it’s much
easier to move and walk through the fields and scout multiple areas. Make sure to look in areas
around low spots or along fence lines or shelterbelts where snowdrifts accumulate. The field
entrance is also a good place to scout, and anywhere the growth is unthrifty or poor, or where
weedy patches exist. Early detection makes an infestation manageable.”
For more information on scouting for fields call the Lethbridge County Agriculture Service Board
at (403) 732-5333. The Alberta Clubroot Management Plan is available at https://open.alberta.ca/publications/7089438