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Funding Pulse Extension Events Across Alberta (PCN Fall 2014) SEP 25 2014 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Pulse Crop News.

Sydney Vos, APG Member Relations Coordinator

After driving close to 10,000 kilometres and attending 18 different crop tours province-wide in the last three months, I’m back in the office to write a few articles. The heat of mid-August started to mature crops for harvest, and tour season wound down quickly. Not only did I learn a lot this summer, I was able to teach other people about pulse crops as well. I attended events hosted by producers, applied research groups, colleges, researchers and company reps. There were many successful extension events I could talk about here but I am going to highlight three.

The Farming Smarter Field School in Lethbridge ran from June 24-26 featuring a repeated one-day event, with the theme “Growing Something Different.” This event was supported in part by APG. The focus was on soybeans, faba beans, night spraying trials, on-farm research demonstrations and corn agronomy. Farming Smarter did a great job of researching questions that farmers have been asking in Southern Alberta and designing demonstrations around these.

There was great turnout each day and the attendees were encouraged to participate in interactive concurrent sessions, such as the onfarm research ‘field sandboxes’ that demonstrated where a trial should be located on an uneven field. Pulses were well represented by Robyne Bowness of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) and Greg Stamp, who spoke on faba bean agronomy (dryland versus irrigation), as well as Pedigreed Seed Producer Patrick Fabian who discussed growing soybeans in Southern Alberta.

APG hosted a Root Rot Tour on July 21 north of Drumheller. This is an area hit hard by root rot. The tour was attended by close to 50 producers. It provided an update for growers on current research and how to manage the complex disease. Dr. Syama Chatterton of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Dr. Mike Harding of ARD led a discussion about what they saw this year and what they hope to achieve with the four-year study, which is funded in part by APG (to learn more, see the Summer Edition of PCN).

In Alberta, 75 per cent of the 150 fields that they tested had incidence of root rot last year, though only 50 per cent showed any visual symptoms and they ranged in severity of infection. This year, they are seeing high incidence in eastern Alberta. Fusarium has been the major pathogen that contributes to root rot in Alberta, however, Aphanomyces was also found in a few fields last year.

Management recommendations from the researchers included protecting pea seedlings early so that they can fight potential infection, and ensuring a one-in-four crop rotation to keep down disease spore levels. Root rot can be difficult to control when the environmental conditions are right and plants are stressed, but the research will help provide insight to more options for growers.

The annual Lacombe Field Day on July 30 was hosted by the Field Crop Development Centre. There was good food, a great turnout and interesting speakers. For the pulse side of the tour, Dr. D.J. Bing, a research scientist with AAFC, discussed a theatre-style pea breeding demonstration. Each plot showed a pea variety starting with full-leaf, semileafless and leafless varieties throughout the years. APG funds regional variety trials across Alberta for all pulse crops and some of the pea varieties in these trials are from Bing’s breeding program.

Agronomy discussion around the ‘princess crop’ known as faba beans, was also covered by Bowness at the tour. This year, acres for both peas and faba beans have increased, so it was great to hear lots of discussion around Alberta from producers and researchers.