There’s never a bad time to check your crops for signs of disease. With some extra care, this year could be a great year for flax, with profits mirroring that of soy. However, a crop is only profitable if it’s healthy.
Canada’s climate can be ideal for flax crops, but it can also be unpredictable, and that unpredictability can lead to disease and pests. In the past, fusarium wilt and rust have majorly affected production, but now there are many ways to manage them. More recently, flax is under threat from pasmo and powdery mildew. This is significant, since pasmo can reduce the yield of flax crops by 50% or more. With the wet and rainy weather we’ve been having, it’s essential to check your crops for signs and apply fungicides as needed. Look for circular, brown lesions on the leaves and brown/black bands on the stems. Studies have shown that even applying preemptively can improve crop yields. So far, no registered flax varieties are resistant to the fungal disease, so use every precaution to prevent it from spreading.
Flax isn’t the only crop at risk this season. Canola crops are at risk for blackleg, and it’s recommended that you check your crops earlier than harvest this year. It can be hard to distinguish blackleg from root rot: blackleg starts at the leaves, and root rot starts at the root. Look for the constriction in the root, and the woody texture as opposed to the mush that root rot leaves behind. Producers should also keep an eye out for flea beetles on their canola this year.
Similarly, winter wheat is at risk for wheat streak mosaic virus, especially in Alberta. Watch for the characteristic light green or yellow streaks in the leaves to identify it. Many crops in the United States have lost up to 70% of their yield due to the disease, so early detection is incredibly important.
The best cure is prevention. Seeding may be done for this year, but committing to quality seed and crop rotations can help protect your crops from disease and pests in the future as well.
Wondering whether you should spray fungicide or not? Zeghers Canada in-house agronomist, Megan Kemp, would be happy to help you through fungicide timing and staging. Give her a call today, cell number 204-245-1119 or on her office line at 204.526.2145