Saskatchewan won't ban canola from infested fields

Wed Oct 5, 2011 2:25pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Saskatchewan will not force its first two farms infested with clubroot disease to stop growing canola for a number of years, as some Alberta municipalities have done, a government official for the Western Canadian province said on Wednesday.

Clubroot has ravaged European crops for centuries and was first detected 10 years ago in Alberta, the main Canadian province affected by the disease.

Two farmers in north central Saskatchewan found symptoms of clubroot, which cuts crop yields, on their plants this autumn.

The government in Saskatchewan, the biggest canola-growing province, will help the farmers and local government authorities make plans to contain the disease, said Faye Dokken-Bouchard, the province's plant disease specialist.

Those will include recommendations that are already standard for all farmers - not to grow canola more often than once every four years, scouting fields and cleaning equipment before moving it from field to field.

Unlike in Alberta, no Saskatchewan municipality currently has a bylaw to order farmers to stop growing canola in infected fields, Dokken-Bouchard said.

"I'm giving the grower the empowerment to come up with a plan and work together, rather than putting (canola rotation) into a regulation," she said. "But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen in the future."

Many Alberta municipalities have banned canola planting on infected fields for several years, said Murray Hartman, Alberta's oilseed specialist.   Continued...