Canola growers fund dozens of research projects with their levy payments to SaskCanola, Alberta Canola and Manitoba Canola Growers. Many of those projects are funded through their joint Canola Agronomic Research Program (CARP). Here are short descriptions and updates for ongoing projects funded by the provincial canola organizations.

Science Edition - Ongoing Projects

Updates For Ongoing Projects

Plant establishment

An on-farm approach to monitor and evaluate the interaction of management and environment on canola stand establishment and disease development

Principal Investigator: Christiane Catellier, Indian Head Agricultural Research Foundation (IHARF)

Funding: SaskCanola

Purpose: This study will use data collected from farm fields to examine how management decisions and environmental conditions interact with each other to affect canola emergence and seedling development, and disease (sclerotinia and blackleg) development in canola. The study started in 2018 and will be conducted in the Indian Head area for three growing seasons.

Progress: Activities since the start of the project have included reviewing literature, planning and developing the methodology, collecting two years of field data and compiling data from third-party sources, organizing the data and creating a data management plan, and conducting preliminary data exploration.

Effect of cereal crop residue distribution on the following year’s canola emergence and yield

Principal investigator: Lorne Grieger, Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI)

Funding: SaskCanola, SaskWheat

Purpose: The aim is to compare different residue management systems on a high-residue wheat crop to see how they affect stand establishment for the subsequent canola crop. This is a field-scale project. Treatments include two combine chopper and spreader systems, including one after market chopper designed for improved spread. Each chopper/spreader system was given four treatments: no-till check, fall tillage with a high-speed disc, fall heavy harrow, and fall and spring heavy harrow. Canola stand establishment and yield are compared the follow year for each treatment.

Progress: Results so far indicate limited difference between the treatments, but this may have been due to later canola seeding dates (which possibly reduced any soil temperature effect) and canola harvest delays due to moisture in 2018. It will be interesting to see how the harvest of 2019 influenced residue management and stand establishment in 2020.

Impact of drought and heat during flowering on canola yield

Raju Soolanayakanahally with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon has a study to see how drought, heat and a combination of the two can affect canola seed yield, oil composition and carbon assimilation. These photos compare canola pods collected under optimal and heat stress conditions. Credit: Raju Soolanayakanahally

Principal investigator: Raju Soolanayakanahally, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: SaskCanola, Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Development Fund (ADF)

Purpose: The main objective is to see how drought, heat and a combination of the two can affect canola seed yield, oil composition and carbon assimilation.

Progress: Heat clearly altered the reproductive organs and process, leading to a substantial reduction in the seed yield and the number of pods. To a lesser extent, heat impaired the internal CO2 diffusion and the RuBisCO carboxylation and regeneration. This was most likely the result of thermal damage to the enzymes involved in photosynthetic assimilation. Similarly, heat had a prevailing effect over drought on seed composition, which is greatly influenced by the conversion and transport of photo-assimilates to the seeds, in turn higher levels of saturated fatty oils. Overall, drought affected the carbon assimilation rate mainly through the limitation of CO2 diffusion through the stomata and the seed yield components.

Fertility management

Developing a soil health assessment protocol for Saskatchewan producers

Principal investigator: Kate Congreves, Department of Plant Sciences

Collaborators: Rich Farrell and Diane Knight, Department of Soil Science
Funding: Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, SaskCanola, SaskWheat, Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF)

Purpose: Maintaining and building soil health is an essential component of long-term sustainable agriculture. Soil health can be defined as the capacity of a soil to function, which reflects sustained biological productivity, environmental quality, and plant health. Farmers need appropriate tools or methods for assessing and interpreting the soil health status of their soils, however, there is no standardized and prairie-based soil health test available. Thus, research is needed to address this gap. We currently have a project underway to assess soil health across Saskatchewan, which will contribute to developing a Saskatchewan Soil Health  Assessment Protocol.

Progress: Soil samples from the 0-15, 15-30, and 30-60 cm depth were collected from 55 fields across 26 sites in Sept. and Oct. 2018 (See the map above). The selected sites represented various Agri-Arm sites, producer fields, and AAFC long-term sites. The sites are representative of Saskatchewan agriculture as most sites were previously cropped with wheat or canola; other sites had barley, chickpea, lentil, field pea, soybean, potato, and green manure. Some native prairie samples were also collected. Lab-work is currently underway to characterize soil health attributes, such as organic carbon, total nitrogen, active carbon, nutrient composition, mineralizable nitrogen, microbial carbon substrate use, wet aggregate stability, texture, pH, EC, etc. The dataset will enable descriptive statistics for each soil health attribute, form which soil health scoring functions will be explored (similar to the Cornell Soil Health Assessment, but based on Saskatchewan soils).

Reducing toxicity of seed-placed phosphorus fertilizer in oilseed crops

Principal investigator: Patrick Mooleki, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: SaskCanola, Alberta Canola

Purpose: Objectives are to determine the maximum safe rate of seed-placed phosphorus (P) fertilizer with different opener widths, and to develop guidelines for producers and crop advisors to use.

Progress: This is a two-year field study, 2018 and 2019, with trials conducted at three locations in Saskatchewan (Melfort, Saskatoon and Scott) and two locations in Alberta (Brooks and Lethbridge). The study was designed to look at how increasing seedbed utilization by narrowing row spacing (from 12” to 9”) and/or widening opener width (1” to 2” or 4”) could reduce the toxicity of seed-placed phosphorus (P) fertilizer on seeds and seedlings, and help improve grain yield of canola. The seed-placed fertilizer was applied at four increasing rates of 20, 35, 50, and 65 lb./ac. of phosphate (P2O5). In year one, the effects of row spacing, opener width and phosphorus rate on plant density and plant height were significant at all sampling dates. No significant effect on grain yield and grain quality characteristics were observed for the three factors. Year two data has been collected and is being analyzed.

Understanding canola root morphology and microbiomes in response to soil phosphorus fertility

Principal investigator: Bobbi Helgason, University of Saskatchewan

Funding: SaskCanola

Purpose: This study will examine root growth and root microbiomes of field-grown canola in response to P rate and placement as part of a larger agronomy research trial by Patrick Mooleki. Because canola exerts genetic control on root growth, examination of different canola genotypes is needed to understand the range of traits involved in root P acquisition and to select for those that are most beneficial in Prairie production systems.

Progress: Plant tissue, root, rhizosphere and bulk soils were collected at early vegetative (June 17)  and mid-flowering (July 10) times for canola fertilized at 0, 35 and 65 lb./ac. of P2O5, applied with either one-inch or four-inch openers (on a 12 inch row spacing). Plant tissues were dried and ground and will be analyzed for nutrient content to determine the effect of P management on nutrient uptake. Roots, rhizosphere and bulk soil samples were frozen at -80°C and DNA has been extracted. Amplicon libraries are currently being prepared for sequencing.

Enhancing the beneficial root and rhizospheric microbiome in Canola

Principal investigator: Chantal Hamel, AAFC Quebec, Mohamed Hijri and Marc  St-Arnaud, Universite de Montreal

Funding: Alberta Canola, Manitoba Canola Growers, SaskCanola, NSERC

Purpose: This project will assess the consistency and variability in the composition of the canola core root microbiome, which could lead to a better understanding of the microbes-plant interactions and could lead to the development of biofertilizers. Researchers also want to determine the crop rotation systems that enhance the beneficial root microbiome of canola and possibly increase canola productivity while allowing the reduction of fertilizer and pesticide use.

Progress: The researchers used four long-term research sites in Saskatchewan and Alberta to test the impact of different cropping systems and previous crop on canola microbiomes. Roots and soil DNA were collected and laboratory work is completed. The four students’ projects are at the analysis stage. A manuscript on the fungal core microbiome of canola was submitted, and another on the bacterial core microbiome is in preparation. We have documented the impacts of rotations with different intensity of canola on the productivity and on the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) microbiome of other crops present in the rotation. We also identified rotation systems that optimize N-cycling processes (two manuscripts are in preparation on these results).

Evaluation of sap nitrate for in-season assessment of crop nitrogen status

Principal Investigator: Dale Tomasiewicz, AAFC Outlook

Funding: SaskCanola

Purpose: The project evaluates sap nitrate analysis as an in-season test to determine canola and wheat nitrogen (N) status. Sap analysis can be conducted quickly on-farm, so may be a suitable diagnostic tool for guiding in-season N application decisions for topdressing or fertigation.

Progress: All tissue and sap samplings were conducted as planned in each of the three field years (2017, 2018 and 2019). Samples from 2019 still have to be analyzed.

Optimizing plant resilience to abiotic and biotic stresses through improved silicon absorption

Principal Investigator: Richard Bélanger, Université Laval

Funding: NSERC, SaskCanola

Purpose: The project studies the beneficial effects of silicon (Si) fertilization on canola. Given that canola is naturally a poor Si accumulator, canola plants have to be transformed with Si transporters (Lsi1 and Lsi2) and then evaluated for Si absorption and derived benefits.

Progress: Canola plants carrying Lsi1 transporters have shown a better ability to uptake Si, particularly in the roots. Optimal material must also contain Lsi2 (efflux) transporters. Inoculation with Leptosphaeria maculans will be used on transformed plants to assess the accrued resistance obtained as a results of improved Si accumulation in plants.

Integrated pest management

Investigating the role of plant hosts in the outbreaks of the aster leafhopper vectored Aster Yellows (AY)

Principal investigator: Sean Prager, University of Saskatchewan

Funding: SaskCanola

Purpose: To see if other crops or weeds could harbour the aster yellows pathogen in Western Canada, attract the aster leafhopper to feed on them and thus potentially spread the disease to canola. Currently it is assumed that the pathogen comes up from the United States with leafhoppers that arrive each year.

Progress: Common weeds were surveyed in 2018 and 2019 for the presence of leafhoppers and/or aster yellows phytoplasma. Masters student Berenice Romero has been doing lab bioassays, checking leafhopper preference and performance on wheat (AAC Brandon), oat (CS Candem), barley (CDC Copeland), canola (AC Excel), spiny annual sow thistle, dandelion, fleabane, marigold and Arabidopsis sp (WT Columbia ecotype). Romero has also been looking at the number of probing events and egg numbers, and whether infection with phytoplasmas and the host plant affect females oviposition behaviour and nymph development.

Generate knowledge and control strategies for the pollen beetle Brassicogethes viridescens (Coleoptera: Nitidulidae), a new invasive pest of canola.

Pollen beetle Brassicogethes viridescens. Credit: Christine Noronha

Principal investigator: Christine Noronha, AAFC Charlottetown

Funding: Alberta Canola, Manitoba Canola Growers, SaskCanola

Purpose: This project proposes to establish economic thresholds for pollen beetle, test the efficacy of insecticides that are less toxic to pollinators, and establish a laboratory colony. It will also establish a surveillance program in Western Canada to monitor the presence/absence of pollen beetles. Surveillance in the Maritimes, where this pest is already established, will try to uncover any naturally occurring biocontrol agents.

Progress: In this study, canola showed a significant decrease in seed weight and total number of pods and an increase in the number of missing pods at the highest density of nine beetles per plant. Significantly lower oil and higher protein content was also recorded at this density. Three of the four insecticides tested in lab trials showed high toxicity to pollen beetles. A survey of canola fields in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba
revealed no pollen beetles indicating that this pest has not yet moved to Western Canada. Maritime surveys found no natural enemies in the samples collected.

Identification and assessment of the role of natural enemies in pest suppression in canola with specific reference to diamondback moth management

Principal investigator: Maya Evenden, University of Alberta

Funding: Alberta Canola, SaskCanola

Purpose: This study has four objectives: (1) Monitor natural enemies associated with diamondback moth in canola, with a focus on larval parasitoids. (2) Develop functional response models to understand relationships between DBM and its natural enemies and to develop dynamic action thresholds. (3) Assess predation/parasitism of DBM life stages in the field. (4) Understand factors to enhance foraging and parasitism of parasitoids associated with DBM.

Progress: Despite efforts to conduct extensive population surveys across Alberta, researchers had very low success capturing adult moths and larvae. A similar survey will be conducted in the summer of 2020. Laboratory studies continue to look into the functional response of predators including the carabid beetle, Pterostichus melanarius and the seven spotted ladybird beetle, Coccinella septempunctata. Field cage studies will be used to determine action thresholds for DBM in canola.

Surveillance networks for beneficial insects: Can natural habitats serve as insect reservoirs, and do they contribute to canola yield?

Paul Galpern with the University of Calgary has shown that the insect biodiversity that results from leaving these natural or non-farmed spaces around the farm can actually contribute to yield. Credit: Gregory Sekulic

Principal investigator: Paul Galpern, University of Calgary

Funding: Alberta Canola, Manitoba Canola Growers

Purpose: This project will examine the relationship between the diversity and abundance of beneficial insects and canola production in Western Canada. Specifically, it will address the role of natural habitats near canola fields as reservoirs for pollinators and natural enemies of canola pests, and to see this effect on canola yield.

Progress: Data from this research indicate that wild bee species visiting wetlands and then traveling into nearby fields may provide an ecosystem service to the crop. Another study suggests that canola plants growing near wetlands have heavier seeds and more seeds per pod. Further work is ongoing to better estimate the magnitude of this yield boost and measure its practical importance to canola growers. Finally, evidence suggests that canola yields are slightly higher in parts of the province where non-crop spaces are more common within fields. The services these spaces can bring to crops (for example, by providing habitat for beneficial insects, limiting soil erosion or improving moisture conditions) may outweigh the possible disservices of retaining them in fields.

Validation of lygus and other insect pest thresholds in commercial farms throughout Alberta

Principal investigator: Hector Carcamo, AAFC Lethbridge

Funding: Alberta Canola, SaskCanola

Purpose: Economic thresholds for lygus were developed for open pollinated cultivars. Recent cage and plot data suggest that the threshold should be raised to two or three (rather than one) lygus per sweep for new hybrids. This study will try to validate economic thresholds for lygus using commercial canola fields.

Progress: From 2016–2019, over 20 farm site-year combinations have been studied. Results have been variable but data support increasing the threshold.  Data analysis for 2019 and synthesis for all years remains to be done.

Characterizing turbulent spray deposition from self-propelled sprayers

Principal investigator: Tom Wolf, Agrimetrix

Funding: Alberta Canola, SaskCanola

Purpose: This study will compare the uniformity of spray deposition for various commercial sprayers.

Progress: In 2019, four experiments were conducted evaluating the effect of travel speed and boom height. Plastic string was used to capture the spray across the boom width, and fluorimetry to quantify the deposit amounts at 30 cm increments. This technique allows researchers to identify the most aerodynamically turbulent regions behind the sprayer, and shed light on possible remedies.

Understanding the new pathogen Verticillium longisporum and its interactions with canola

Principal investigators: Dilantha Fernando and Mario Tenuta, University of Manitoba

Funding: SaskCanola, CAP

Purpose: The main objective is to identify and characterize Verticillium longisporum isolates from across the Prairies. The researchers will also investigate the longevity of micro-sclerotia produced by this fungus in canola stems, and monitor the pathogen movement in soil or through space, and test canola and rapeseed lines for their resistance to the pathogen and to identify new R-genes.

Progress: Researchers studied two field locations in Manitoba in 2019 and are analysing all field experimental data at the moment.

Assessing the impact of Contarinia sp. on canola production across the Prairies.

Principal investigator: Meghan Vankosky and Boyd Mori, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: SaskCanola, Alberta Canola

Purpose: A new, undescribed species of Contarinia midge was found attacking canola flowers in 2016. It is now formally described and named Contarinia brassicola. The purpose of this project is to describe the life history, development, timing of adult emergence, distribution and impact of C. brassicola on canola crops to determine the pest status of this insect.

Progress: Experiments were repeated in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The timing of adult midge emergence was monitored using emergence cages in northeastern Saskatchewan. Canola plants were dissected weekly during the growing season to determine the timing of midge attack and of midge development. To determine the distribution of this insect, a survey of canola fields in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba was completed in late July/early August. Larvae of C. brassicola were collected during the survey for population genetic analyses, and tests to determine if larvae were parasitized by natural enemies.

Development of a pheromone-based monitoring system for a newly identified Contarinia midge on the Canadian prairies.

Principal investigator: Meghan Vankosky and Boyd Mori, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: SaskCanola, Alberta Canola

Purpose: A new species of midge, closely related to swede midge and now formally described and named Contarina brassicola is now known to attack canola flowers in fields across the Prairies. This project will see if C. brassicola produces pheromones that can be used to develop a pheromone-based monitoring system, similar to the swede midge monitoring system.

Progress: Midge specimens were collected from canola fields across the Prairies and shipped to collaborators in the United Kingdom for refinement of a female-produced pheromone. Lures with different components of the pheromone were placed in traps in northeastern Saskatchewan for testing in field conditions. Additional testing in the lab and the field will refine the pheromone-based monitoring system.

Coordinated surveillance, forecasting and risk warning systems for field crop insect pests of the Prairie Ecosystem

Principal investigator(s): Meghan Vankosky, Jennifer Otani, Owen Olfert, AAFC

Funding: Previously Alberta Canola, SaskCanola, Manitoba Canola Growers and WGRF. Now Canadian Agricultural Partnership

Purpose: The aim is to develop and implement insect surveillance programs to identify risks to crop production from pest species and to highlight and conserve their natural enemies.

Progress: As in previous years, surveys were conducted for key field crop pests across the Prairies. Regional forecast and distribution maps for the insects monitored are made available before the growing season. Weekly updates and monitoring protocols for field crop pests of the Prairies are available online on at Funding is in place to continue surveys and related pest forecasting research until March 2023.

Effect of hairiness in on abundance, feeding and egg-laying behaviour of flea beetles, diamondback moth and Aster leafhopper.

Principal investigator: Chrystel Olivier, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: SaskCanola, Alberta Canola

Purpose: The project aims to determine the effects of trichomes (hairs) on the feeding and/or egg-laying behaviour of striped flea beetles, diamond back moths and aster leafhoppers.

Progress: Lab bioassays and field trials were conducted with a hairy Brassica napus line and a very hairy Brassica species, B. villosa. Initial studies demonstrated that striped flea beetles tend to avoid hairy leaves and move to feed on the less hairy stems or petioles. Female diamondback moths prefer to lay eggs on the hairy parts of the plant; however, first instar larvae have difficulty navigating through the trichome mats and are unable to mine and older larvae prefer to feed on glabrous leaves compared to hairy leaves. Lab bioassays with aster leafhoppers are planned for later in 2019. A new striped flea beetle colony at AAFC Saskatoon will permit year-round laboratory bioassays.

Development of a harmonized clubroot map

Principal investigator: Stephen Strelkov, University of Alberta

Funding: Alberta Canola, SaskCanola, Manitoba Canola Growers

Purpose: The project will examine the feasibility of a harmonized clubroot map, determine what such a map will look like, and communicate findings and recommendations to stakeholders.

Progress: Various maps have been prepared to determine the clearest and most informative ways to present data on the occurrence and distribution of clubroot. Some maps show the location of fields with confirmed clubroot as red points, while fields where clubroot was not found are shown in green. Other maps have been designed in which clubroot distribution is illustrated based on the total number of confirmed infestations in a municipality. A more recent map expresses infestation as a percentage of total farmed acreage in a county or municipality. Preliminary results have been shared with the Clubroot Steering Committee and other stakeholders. Feedback is being used to further refine the maps.

Managing small patches of clubroot infestation in canola fields

Principal investigator: Bruce Gossen,  AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: Alberta Canola, Manitoba Canola Growers, SaskCanola

Purpose: The main objective is to develop practical recommendations for managing small patches of clubroot in commercial canola fields. The project includes lab studies of rotation crops and grass cover crops, field studies of the efficacy of liming and grasses, and identification of improved techniques for estimating resting spore numbers in soil.

Progress: Four field sites (two in Saskatchewan, two in Manitoba) have been established and initial soil samples collected to assess efficacy of grass crops and liming under field conditions on reducing spore numbers. A new more accurate molecular test for spore concentration is being developed and validated.

Influence of pH on the clubroot pathogen: Are there pH-insensitive strains?

Principal investigator: Stephen Strelkov, University of Alberta

Funding: Alberta Canola, Manitoba Canola Growers, SaskCanola

Purpose: Relatively acidic soil is believed to have facilitated the establishment of clubroot in central Alberta, the heart of the outbreak. While liming to increase soil pH represents a potential tool for clubroot management, the effectiveness of increased soil pH in controlling different clubroot strains, and the potential risks of liming as a clubroot management strategy, are not known. This study will try to answer two questions: Does the effectiveness of soil pH amendment for clubroot control depend on the pathotype present? Can liming inadvertently select for pH-insensitive strains of the pathogen?

Progress: A graduate student who was recently recruited who has started experiments to answer  these questions.

Evaluating fungicide seed treatment options for control of blackleg in Western Canada

Principal investigator: Gary Peng, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: Alberta Canola, Manitoba Canola Growers

Purpose: In Australia, fungicide seed treatment has been a key component in blackleg management for years. In Canada, there is currently no seed treatment specifically for blackleg. The main goal is to assess whether a seed treatment, either with an existing (Helix, Prosper or Jockey) or a new product (fluopyram, for example), will be of a high value for blackleg control in western Canada.

Progress: A range of new active ingredients/formulations of fungicides were screened in controlled-environment conditions as a seed treatment against foliar infection on Westar (susceptible) that leads to blackleg. While the majority of candidates, including the current industry standard of seed treatment, showed little effect, the new actives containing the succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) appeared highly effective. On resistant canola varieties, the disease level was generally low already, which may overshadow the benefit of this new seed treatment. Field trials will continue.

Towards better understanding of genetics in Leptosphaeria-Brassica interactions via international collaborations to standardize the nomenclature of blackleg resistance genes

Principal investigator: Hossein Borhan, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: Alberta Canola, SaskCanola

Purpose: To help in the international effort to locate new blackleg resistance genes, researchers need a universal protocol so they’re not finding the same gene multiple times but giving it different names, which is happening. Borhan will coordinate efforts with the international blackleg research community to expand the current set of host differentials for new R genes, and apply the pathogen genotyping markers (developed as part of Growing Forward 2 funded research) to define a common set of Leptosphaeria maculans differential isolates.

Progress: Blackleg research labs from Australia, U.S., U.K. and France have agreed to join efforts and share resources with the Canadian research groups working on blackleg disease of canola. Work has been initiated to exchange diverse collections of blackleg (Leptosphaeria maculans) isolates and characterise each isolate based on its virulence on canola and sequence diversity. In addition PCR based markers for L. maculans, developed by Borhan’s lab, have been shared with the international blackleg research groups.

Ecology of swede midge – host plant interactions

Principal investigator(s): Boyd Mori, AAFC Saskatoon (now University of Alberta)

Funding: SaskCanola, ADF, WGRF

Purpose: The purpose is to determine the host range of swede midge, Contarina nasturtii, for Brassica sp. and close relatives, including weeds common on the Prairies. The project will also investigate the susceptibility of B. napus cultivars to swede midge.

Progress: All plant species and varieties of B. napus tested have been susceptible to swede midge infestation. In addition, experiments were conducted to determine the host plant response following swede midge infestation.

Assessing surface wax chemical diversity as a tool to defend against abiotic and biotic stress in Canola.

Principal investigator: Mark Smith, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: SaskCanola

Purpose: The outer surface of a canola plant is covered by a complex mixture of water-repelling organic material referred to as cuticular wax. This layer plays a role in prevention of water loss and is also the first thing an insect or fungal spore encounters when landing on a leaf or petal. The purpose of the project is to characterize the chemical composition of this wax and determine the diversity of composition and amount between different canola cultivars. We are also identifying genes involved in wax biosynthesis to develop markers for use in breeding for wax related traits. The long term goal is to determine if wax composition can be manipulated through breeding to enhance the ability of the plant to protect itself from biotic and abiotic stress.

Progress: The major chemical components have been identified and differences in wax composition have been observed between different plant parts. Chemical diversity between cultivars appears to be limited to changes in the ratios of components, with environment being an important factor in determining wax production. Additional diversity is present in other Brassica species. The researchers have identified many genes that appear to have a role in wax biosynthesis, with further validation in progress. 

Biopesticides as a Novel Management Strategy for Sclerotinia in Canola

Principal investigator: Susan Boyetchko, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: SaskCanola, Manitoba Canola Growers

Purpose: The main objective is to screen and evaluate the biopesticide potential of selected bacterial strains that are indigenous to the Canadian Prairies and determine their ability to control disease development and growth of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum in canola.

Progress: Five bacterial strains were found to inhibit ascospore germination, mycelial growth and sclerotial formation of S. sclerotiorum. All plants sprayed with bacterial strain PENSV20 in the presence of the pathogen had no symptoms of the disease and plant defense genes were triggered when sprayed 24 hours before and 24 hours after the pathogen. Research on biopesticide evaluation is continuing.

Verticillium stripe management

Principal investigators: Sheau-Fang Hwang and Stephen Strelkov, University of Alberta

Funding: SaskCanola

Purpose: Objectives are to determine if there is yield loss from verticillium stripe (VS), determine the effects of growth stage and inoculation techniques on infection, and evaluate canola cultivars for resistance.

Progress: The effects of inoculum density on disease severity was assessed. Two canola cultivars were grown in outdoor microplots inoculated with a virulent isolate of verticillium at various densities. Treatments will be assessed for VS symptoms, rated for disease severity and seed yield per plant will be recorded. Regression analysis will be performed to estimate the yield loss resulting per unit increase of disease severity.

Harvest management

Pre-harvest herbicide and desiccation options for straight-combining canola: Effects on plant and seed dry-down, yield and seed quality

Principal investigator: Chris Holzapfel, IHARF

Funding: Manitoba Canola Growers, SaskCanola

Purpose: The three-year study will evaluate the potential benefits of a pre-harvest application of herbicide or desiccant to standing canola prior to straight combining. Visual stem dry-down, seed moisture at harvest, total plant moisture at harvest, dockage, seed yield, green seed, lodging and visual shatter ratings will be measured for each treatment.

Progress: Field trials were completed at four locations for 2017, 2018 and 2019. The study compared Liberty Link and Roundup Ready varieties, starting with InVigor L233P and Pioneer Hi-Bred 45M35 in year one. In years two and three, InVigor 233P was replaced with InVigor L255PC which had an estimated maturity that was closer to 45M35. A total of 10 treatments were completed, five for each variety. Pre-harvest treatments were untreated, glyphosate, saflufenacil, glyphosate plus saflufenacil, and diquat.

On-farm survey of combine grain loss in canola across Western Canada

Two drop-pan companies were cooperators in the PAMI harvest loss study, which will quantity actual in-field canola combine losses and factors that tend to contribute to higher losses. The ScherGain drop pan is on the left, Bushel Plus on the right.

Principal investigator: Amie Harrison, PAMI

Funding: Alberta Canola, Manitoba Canola Growers, SaskCanola

Purpose: This project conducted in-field combine loss surveys at farms across Western Canada in 2019. Previous studies have measured average total harvest loss in canola in Western Canada at 5.9 per cent of yield. Total loss includes environmental loss, header loss and combine loss. This project aims to determine how much canola loss is attributed to combine loss.

Progress: Surveys were completed and data is being compiled and analyzed to quantify the relationships between grain loss and other variables. Results of this survey will educate and inform producers about which factors are most likely to contribute to higher losses.

Defining best management practices for using supplemental heating with natural air drying

Principal investigator: Lorne Grieger, PAMI

Funding: SaskCanola, SaskWheat

Purpose: Many producers use natural air drying (NAD) systems to minimize the capital and operating costs of grain drying, but very little practical information is available to help producers make management and operational decisions related to using supplemental heating. The objective of this project was to conduct bench-scale drying trials to determine how the use of supplemental heat affects the drying rate and storage conditions of wheat and canola.

Progress: In year one, which was the fall of 2018, damp canola (13 per cent moisture content) was dried down to 10 per cent within four days with an applied airflow rate of 2.0 cubic feet per minute per bushel and a 10°C increase in inlet air temperature, or within five days without heat. It took eight days to dry canola at 1.0 cfm/bu with heat. Both trials suggest that over-drying at the bottom of the bin may not be avoidable, and that an average dry moisture should be targeted and then the grain should be mixed.


Introgression of clubroot resistance from B.rapa into B.napus canola and identification of molecular markers for resistance, and pyramiding of this resistance with other resistance genes.

Principal investigator: Habibur Rahman, University of Alberta

Funding: Alberta Canola, SaskCanola

Purpose: This study will introgress clubroot resistance from two subspecies of B. rapa to canola. These rapa sources carry resistance to pathotypes 3 and 3A. This could be a new source of resistance because they are not strongly associated with the genetic markers for two well-known sources, the CR genes of A3 and A8 of Mendel and rutabaga, respectively.

Progress: Resistance to clubroot pathotype 3 was transferred from B. rapa var. rapifera (radish) and B. rapa var. chinensis (Chinese cabbage) to B. napus canola. Transfer of resistance to 3A is in progress. Marker screening continues.

Defining populations of Plasmodiophora brassicae with near isogenic Brassica napus lines

Principal Investigator: Fengqun Yu, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: SaskCanola, Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Development Fund

Purpose: This study aims to develop a set of near isogenic B. napus lines containing single clubroot-resistance genes, and to define the populations of P. brassicae with the newly developed near isogenic lines.

Progress: Four near isogenic lines have been obtained, and further selection from 800 other double-haploid lines is in progress.

Genome wide functional analysis of Plasmodiophora brassicae effectors and the management of clubroot disease.

Principal investigator: Peta Bonham-Smith, University of Saskatchewan

Funding: Saskatchewan Ministry  of Agriculture, SaskCanola

Purpose: The main objective of the project is to profile Plasmodiophora brassicae candidate effector proteins. Using the RNA-Seq data from clubroot-infected Arabidopsis, previously generated by the same research group, they will identify a subset of candidate effector proteins secreted by the clubroot pathogen during secondary infection. Each effector protein will be characterised and their target plant protein identified in order to explore potential sources of resistance to clubroot disease.

Progress: The group has identified 32 candidate effector proteins (small secreted P. brassicae proteins – SSPbPs). One candidate is important in plant effector-triggered immunity. Characterization of effector proteins continues.

From field to the genome. Application of third generation sequencing to direct genotyping of canola pathogens

Principal investigator: Hossein Borhan, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: Alberta Canola, SaskCanola

Purpose: To help canola growers with management of clubroot disease, researchers propose to develop a sensitive and rapid diagnostic tool to detect the presence of pathogen and determine the pathotypes present and the relative abundance.

Progress: Researchers have improved the pathotype 3 genome to almost chromosome level assembly. This improved genome will be used as a reference for sequence based diagnostic of clubroot isolates from canola fields.

Identification and genetic mapping of novel genes for resistance to blackleg in Chinese and Canadian Brassica napus varieties/lines/germplasm

Principal Investigator: Dilantha Fernando, University of Manitoba

Funding: Alberta Canola, SaskCanola

Purpose: This study will evaluate disease incidence and severity in selected commercial fields with different R-gene rotations and within a small plot trial looking at rotating major resistance gene groups. This project will help to understand how blackleg major resistance genes should be stewarded to protect cultivar longevity and to minimize blackleg incidence and severity.

Progress: Recent data from the small plot trial showed that canola cultivars carrying a single Rlm4 gene or Rlm3/Rlm4 genes displayed lower disease incidence and disease severity. This indicates that canola cultivar carrying
Rlm4 gene could be introduced as an effective rotation material in Western Canada canola fields. Over 50 fields have been surveyed across the Prairies from 2018 and 2019. Differences have been noted in blackleg disease incidence and severity with cultivars containing different resistance genes.

Overcoming blackleg disease in canola through establishment of quantitative resistance

Principal investigator: Hossein Borhan, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: SaskCanola

Purpose: Quantitative resistance to blackleg disease, also known as adult plant resistance (APR), is a highly desirable trait for mitigation of risk to production and export of canola posed by the blackleg pathogen Leptosphaeria maculans (Lm). However the nature of APR genes and their function in providing protection is not known. The goal of this project is to combine gene expression profile and mapping data to identify genes providing immunity to blackleg of canola.

Progress: Three genes with reported roles in plant defence and predicted function as receptors, detoxifying enzymes and cell wall reinforcement proteins were identified. One has been transferred to the B. napus cultivars to determine its function in APR.

Mapping and introgression of the highly effective Brassica rapa blackleg resistance gene Rlm11 into spring-type Brassica napus.

Principal investigator: Hossein Borhan, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: SaskCanola, Western Grains Research Foundation, Saskatchewan’s Agriculture Development Fund.

Purpose: In previous projects, the researchers identified Rlm11 as an important gene for canola resistance to blackleg in Western Canada. This study will identify markers for the gene and then use introgression to cross the gene into into B. napus germplasm.

Progress: Currently Rlm11 has been introgressed into a B. napus line with plants showing normal spring-type growth habit and good seed set.

A field-based protocol for the assessment of quantitative resistance (QR) against blackleg of canola and critical window of infection in Western Canada

Principal investigator: Gary Peng, AAFC Saskatoon

Funding: SaskCanola, CAP

Purpose: This project aims to show the relative importance of cotyledon vs. lower true-leaf infection linked to blackleg incidence and severity. Additionally, the impact of race non-specific resistance on blackleg development via leaf infection will also be studied to provide key information for fungicide strategy based on seed or foliar treatment.

Progress: In 2019, two greenhouse trials on Westar (susceptible) and two inoculated field trials on five canola varieties were carried out. Data are being analysed.