Are the conditions right for sclerotinia in canola?

There are a few points to remember when considering a fungicide application for sclerotinia in canola this year:

  • In order for sclerotia to germinate and produce apothecia, they require at least 10 days of moist soil conditions (surface soil – as we aren’t concerned with sclerotia that are buried more than an inch or two below the surface).
  • Spores cannot infect leaves and stems directly – they grow on senescing tissue (i.e. canola petals) and then spread to the leaves and stems.
  • Dew/rainfall after petal drop is required for the pathogen to spread from the infected petals to the stem. Petals that dry up in leaf and branch axils without any moisture will not spread the infection.
  • The recommended timing for a fungicide application for sclerotinia management in canola is 20-50% bloom. This is because typically the canopy has filled in after 50% bloom. Petals can still be infected after 50% bloom, but when they fall, they tend to land on upper branch axils. Infection that only affects minor upper branches will not have a large impact on yield. If a crop is stagey or the canopy thin, infected petals may land on lower leaf and branch axils even after 50% bloom and infect the main stem. As long is there are petals present on the plants there is potential for infection to occur, the question is where will those petals land when they fall?

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