GFM Network News


Last year’s conditions mean this year’s weather will be the driver when it comes to crop diseases, says provincial research scientist Michael Harding. But keep close watch for clubroot and root rots (which continued to spread last year) and watch for fusarium head blight, which has laid low recently but could easily rebound in 2021.

Your 2021 disease forecast will depend on your weather forecast

Keep an eye out for the usual suspects in your crops this year if the weather turns wet, says researcher

Reading Time: 4 minutes Predicting which diseases will cause problems on your farm this year is a little like predicting the weather — you know it’s going to hit you, but you don’t know when or how bad it will be. And it doesn’t help that these two unpredictable forces often go hand in hand. “One of the primary […] Read more

Bacterial leaf streak is often confused for stripe rust, but without the orange spores.

Watch for bacterial leaf streak in your wheat and barley this year

Reading Time: < 1 minute Cereal growers across Alberta should keep bacterial leaf streak in their sights this year. “It’s not a new pathogen, but it’s what I’d call an emerging pathogen,” said provincial researcher Michael Harding. “It’s becoming more and more prevalent and even causing some economic loss in cereals.” Most growers don’t watch for it or manage it […] Read more


It is fair to say that the commercial banana trade is a monoculture that is highly vulnerable to disease.

Schoepp: The plight of the banana has implications for all of agriculture

Overreliance on chemical control has brought this hugely important global crop to a crisis point

Reading Time: 3 minutes Regardless of the season there are some foods that are always available and one of them is the banana. It’s an interesting fruit because of the dominance it has in terms of trade and its unique characteristic of being a non-seed-bearing clone. Most bananas come from Ecuador, Philippines, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia and another 125 […] Read more

Symptoms of black chaff on wheat include discolouration of mature wheat head, dark brown or purple markings on wheat stems, and leaf streaking.

The lowdown on bacterial leaf streak

Reading Time: < 1 minute Extension specialists from the cereal commissions in the Prairies have created a new fact sheet on bacterial leaf streak and black chaff, two related diseases (both caused by the same pathogen) that are becoming more prevalent across the Prairies. Symptoms of bacterial leaf streak can be similar to fungal leaf spot diseases while black chaff […] Read more


A healthy wheat head at left and one with severe symptoms of fusarium head blight on the right.

The FHB buck now stops with farmers in Alberta

The zero-tolerance 
approach didn’t stop the spread of fusarium in the province

Reading Time: 4 minutes The Alberta government has given up trying to battle fusarium head blight through regulation — but the move means farmers will need to up their game to control the hugely costly cereal disease. The province removed fusarium graminearum from the Pest Control Nuisance Regulation of the Agricultural Pests Act last month, bringing Alberta in line […] Read more

A stem infected by root rot shows signs of shredding, shattering and the development of a sclerotial body. The central cavity (pith tissue) has been destroyed, which is characteristic of stem rot.

A mix of pests and diseases on the roster for #crop2020

Wheat midge, wheat stem sawfly, net blotch and other things to look out for

Reading Time: 4 minutes There are several diseases and pests farmers might want to keep an eye out for this growing season. “It’s kind of a hodgepodge this year,” said Jeremy Boychyn, agronomy research extension specialist with Alberta Barley and Alberta Wheat. The southern part of the province has had consistent issues with grasshoppers because it has been so […] Read more


Premature bleaching of wheat spikelet infected by fusarium head blight, 
which is expected to be more common this year.

The rains came and crop disease pathogens couldn’t be happier

Scouting regularly and intensely gives you the best chance of hitting the ideal fungicide window

Reading Time: 4 minutes Early season diseases generally passed crop growers by during the dry spring, but rainfall across much of the province means they need to keep a close watch now. “The dry conditions earlier this spring tended to slow things down, but we’ve had moisture occurring, and that has elevated the risk for diseases,” federal research scientist […] Read more

This plant was found in 2017 in a trial plot of a resistant variety that Scott Keller was growing. It turns out that bags of resistant varieties aren’t pure — and so a percentage could be a non-resistant variety, said Keller. “So even resistant canola seed can help spread clubroot!” he said in an email. Still, experts and agronomists urge producers to seed resistant varieties — something Keller and Alberta Canola chair John Guelly say isn’t happening often enough.

In denial? Farmers ‘failing’ in battle against clubroot

Scott Keller has crunched acreage numbers and found tight rotations and susceptible varieties are commonplace

Reading Time: 6 minutes For the last three years, Scott Keller has been crunching acreage numbers from the provincial crop insurer — and he’s not liking what he sees. “To me, everything the researchers and the Canola Council (of Canada) is saying that farmers should do; they’re not even doing anything outside of just adopting the resistant varieties,” said […] Read more


In a hot, dry year, you expect a lot of heat-loving pests, but that wasn’t the case this year in much of Alberta — although these fellows were more numerous south of Highway 1.

Hot, dry conditions drove down insect and disease pressure in 2018

By and large, producers didn’t see as much insect damage or disease loss this year

Reading Time: 3 minutes Crop yields in Alberta took a hit this year because of the hot, dry conditions — but the blow wasn’t as big as it could have been, thanks to decreased disease and insect pressure. “Across the province, we’re trending close to the five-year average, and the lack of disease and insect pressure may have helped […] Read more

What’s your biggest disease threat this year?

What’s your biggest disease threat this year?

The weather will tell the tale, but there’s one crop disease 
‘producers should be thinking about and preparing for’

Reading Time: 4 minutes Predicting crop disease problems is like taking a shot in the dark at a moving target. “For disease to develop, we need certain weather, certain hosts, and certain pathogens, so it can really be like looking into a crystal ball,” said Stephen Strelkov, a professor and researcher at the University of Alberta. “As a result, […] Read more