Pulse School: Disease Control in a Dry Year

Pulse growers have some decisions to make regarding fungicide applications this summer. On one hand, dry conditions generally translate into lower disease pressure, but on the other hand, peas and lentils are in relatively good shape compared to some other crops affected by the dryness across much of Western Canada. Add the fact they’re selling for decent prices, and they might well be worth protecting from disease.

In this Pulse School episode, Allison Friesen of BASF discusses the factors that contribute to higher disease pressure and several disease considerations to keep in mind where moisture is scarce.

“With the drier conditions, we’ve seen lower growth and slower canopy development, however pulse crops are still looking good compared to other crops out there. We’re also seeing very high prices, so it’s an important crop to protect,” she notes.

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Disease management starts with quality seed and in many cases, a seed treatment, so Friesen goes back to the start of the growing season to discuss early season protection, including a new pulse seed treatment BASF will be releasing for 2016.

From there, she discusses that decision whether fungicide applications can be justified. Most pulse diseases, including anthracnose in lentils and mycosphaerella blight in peas, start at the bottom of the canopy and move up the plant.

“Not only does this affect how your nutrients and water are translocated through the plant. This also affects how your plant stands. When we have high disease pressure we tend to see the crop fall over pretty early in the season, which can make harvestability pretty difficult,” explains Friesen.

She urges growers to scout regularly, to be aware how quickly disease can progress when moisture arrives, and points out high humidity can increase disease pressure just as much as rain.

“If you had seed that had some infection or if you’ve had a tight rotation, there’s a lot of inoculum in those fields that can attack that plant,” says Friesen. “And with the drier conditions, plants can be more susceptible because they’re fighting conditions and not just disease. They’re not as healthy, and they’re not getting as many nutrients, so applications of fungicide can help to prevent later disease onset.”

Related: Pulse School: Which Input is the Most Important for Max Pea Yields?

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