Skip to content

Root Rot, Mycosphaerella Blight and Neonicotinoids Among Topics at Western Forum on Pest Management (PCN Winter 2015) DEC 22 2014 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Pulse Crop News.

What is the Western Forum on Pest Management (WFPM) that takes place in Canmore in October and why is it important?

The Western Committee on Crop Pests (WCCP) and the Western Committee on Plant Diseases (WCPD) are committees that fall under an organization called the Western Forum on Pest Management (WFPM). They function as advisory bodies to the provincial government advisory committees of the four Western Canadian provinces and to other agencies concerned with pest control. Their objective is to promote the development and adoption of sound integrated control measures for pests in all crops including field crops, vegetables, berries and trees.

Pathologists, entomologists, and industry members attend this meeting annually to discuss regional pest concerns. The entomologists are also involved in the Insect Pest Monitoring Network, a prairie-wide, coordinated insect monitoring program designed to keep the Canadian agriculture industry informed of the risks to crop production from pest species, and to highlight and conserve their natural enemies.

What pulse topics were discussed?

Each committee breaks out for a day session to go through business, committee reports and key pest issues in Western Canada from the past year. They also provide an update on current research and new products that could help in addressing those issues.

For pulse crops in particular, root rot was a key disease issue in lentils and peas in western provinces this year. Dr. Syama Chatterton with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada reviewed details of the survey taken of Alberta and Saskatchewan fields. It was noted that a lot of late season root rot showed up, including some incidence of Aphanomyces, which is of concern due to its ability to survive for long periods in the soil, and is currently being studied by researchers. Researchers noted that bacterial wilt, bacterial blight and rust of dry bean were found in a few dry bean fields in Southern Alberta in 2014.

Scott Meers of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) also provided information on insect pests of pulse crops in Alberta, including pea leaf weevil, which was seen farther north than usual in some faba bean crops. The WFPM heard from Holly Gelech of BioVision Seed Labs about the quality of pulse seed in Alberta from the preliminary samples they saw early this year, which included a huge range in germination results. She noted that Mycosphaerella blight is the most common seed-borne disease in peas. Robyne Bowness (ARD) spoke on issues in faba bean crops in Alberta this past year including damage in a field from Bertha Armyworms and lots of frost injury on seed. John Gavloski, entomologist with Manitoba Agriculture, discussed potential new crop pests in soybeans he is concerned about in Manitoba as the crop continues to grow in acres, including soybean aphids and cutworms.

What other key issues were highlighted?

The WFPM members highlighted critical industry issues including the declining number of agricultural researchers and research capacity in Western Canada. This has been heightened by some recent retirements from the Western Canadian scientific community with no succession plan to replace those retirees.

The committee determined they would act to ensure government and producer commissions are aware of this problem. The committee also discussed increased attention on neonicotinoids and the complexity of the current situation of seed treatment use on crops in Western Canada. Paul Thiel from Bayer Cropscience presented the history, testing and safety of neonicotinoids, which dates back 20 years.

Where do you find more information?

If you are interested in Guidelines for the Control of Plant Diseases and Insects in Western Canada updated by the researchers involved in the WFPM, you can visit their website FarmTech 2015 will include a concurrent session on Root Rot in Pulses featuring presentations by researchers Dr. Michael Harding and Dr. Syama Chatterton. The WFPM will be held in British Columbia next year.