Protection
Sabine Banniza’s project on multiple resistance to three lentil diseases has a fun tagline: Can we score a hat trick? To take this hockey analogy a bit further, the project aims to get some top disease resistance genes from a wild lentil team to join the cultivated lentil team.
Published in Plant Breeding
Glyphosate-resistant (GR) waterhemp was first found in Ontario in 2014, but it already has a foothold in three counties in the southwest of the province. Fortunately, Peter Sikkema’s research group at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus has made a good start on finding effective options for controlling this challenging weed.
Published in Weeds
Another weed control tool bites the dust. A field in southwest Saskatchewan was confirmed to have Group 4-resistant kochia in the fall of 2015. The durum field had been sprayed with OcTTain herbicide (2,4-D and fluroxypyr; both Group 4 active ingredients) and it had little effect on the kochia population.
Published in Weeds
Flash back to your first lesson in photosynthesis and you may recall stomata, the holes in the leaves of land-based plants through which they take in carbon dioxide and let out oxygen and water vapour. In the 400 million years since plants colonized the land, these holes have remained largely unchanged, save for one major exception: grasses.

Wheat field
Wheat and other edible grasses have developed pores that make them more drought tolerant. Stanford scientists have studied these pores with an eye toward future climate change.

These plants, which make up about 60 percent of the calories people consume worldwide, have a modified stoma that experts believe makes them better able to withstand drought or high temperatures. Stanford University scientists have now confirmed the increased efficiency of grass stomata and gained insight into how they develop. Their findings, reported in the March 17 issue of Science, could help us cultivate crops that can thrive in a changing climate.

“Ultimately, we have to feed people,” said Dominique Bergmann, professor of biology and senior author of the paper. “The climate is changing and, regardless of the cause, we’re still relying on plants to be able to survive whatever climate we do have.”

Adjusting an ancient system
Grasses – which include wheat, corn and rice – developed different stomata, which may have helped them spread during a prehistoric period of increased global dryness. Stomata usually have two so-called “guard cells” with a hole in the middle that opens and closes depending on how a plant needs to balance its gas exchange. If a plant needs more CO2 or wants to cool by releasing water vapour, the stomata open. If it needs to conserve water, they stay closed.

Grass stomata
The protein in yellow moves out of the guard cells into cells on both sides. By recruiting these cells, grass stomata become better suited to hot and dry environments.

Grasses improved on the original structure by recruiting two extra cells on either side of the guard cells, allowing for a little extra give when the stoma opens. They also respond more rapidly and sensitively to changes in light, temperature or humidity that happen during the day. Scientists hope that by knowing more about how grass developed this system, they may be able to create or select for edible plants that can withstand dry and hot environments, which are likely to become more prevalent as our climate changes.

“We take our food and agriculture for granted. It’s not something the ‘first world’ has to deal with, but there are still large areas of the world that suffer from famine and this will increase,” said Michael Raissig, a postdoctoral researcher in the Bergmann lab and lead author of the paper. “The human population is going to explode in the next 20 to 30 years and most of that is in the developing world. That’s also where climate change will have the biggest effect.”

Growing a better mouth
Scientists have assumed grasses’ unusual stomata make these plants more efficient “breathers.” But, spurred by curiosity and a passion for developmental biology, these researchers decided to test that theory.

Thanks to a bit of luck, they found a mutant of the wheat relative Brachypodium distachyon that had two-celled stomata. Partnering with the Berry lab at the Carnegie Institution for Science, the group compared the stomata from the mutant to the normal four-celled stomata. They not only confirmed that the four-celled version opens wider and faster but also identified which gene creates the four-celled stomata – but it wasn’t a gene they expected.

“Because it was a grass-specific cell-type, we thought it would be a grass-specific factor as well,” said Raissig, “but it’s not.”

Instead of relying on a completely new mechanism, the recruitment of the extra cells seems to be controlled by a well-studied factor which is known to switch other genes on and off. In other plants, that factor is present in guard cells, where it is involved in their development. In grasses, the team found that the factor migrated out of guard cells and directly into two surrounding cells, recruiting them to form the four-celled stomata.

Feeding the world
Over evolutionary time, humans have bred and propagated plants that produce the kinds of foods we like and that can survive extreme weather.

“We’re not consciously breeding for stomata but we’re unconsciously selecting for them,” said Bergmann, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “When we want something that’s more drought resistant, or something that can work better in higher temperatures, or something that is just able to take in carbon better, often what we are actually doing is selecting for various properties of stomata.”

The adaptability and productivity of grass makes understanding this plant family critical for human survival, the scientists said. Someday, whether through genetic modification or selective breeding, scientists might be able to use these findings to produce other plants with four-celled stomata. This could also be one of many changes – to chloroplasts or enzymes, for example – that help plants photosynthesize more efficiently to feed a growing population.
Published in Corporate News
Mississauga, ON – Corn growers in Eastern Canada now have a new tool for fast and hassle-free weed control. DuPont Crop Protection announced that approval has been granted for registration of DuPont Destra IS herbicide.

Destra IS is a post-emergence corn herbicide with one-pass broad-spectrum knockdown and residual control, and adds two additional modes-of-action to a glyphosate tolerant system – there’s also residual control and multiple modes of action. The herbicide will allow growers to control hard-to-kill broadleaf and grassy weeds and to keep corn weed-free during the critical weed-free period.

Destra IS has a wide window of application, allowing growers to apply up to the eight-leaf stage, with excellent crop safety and a broader geography, including short season areas. It offers a smaller, easy-to-handle package and compact dry formulation, and is the only dry mesotrione formulation on the market. It offers a faster pour and bottle cleanout.

Fore more information visit Dupont.ca
Published in Herbicides
Guelph, ON – Bayer has announced the launch of Trilex EverGol SHIELD fungicide and insecticide seed treatment, in a convenient package that offers complete disease and insect protection against the expanding presence of pea leaf weevil and wireworms for pulse growers in Western Canada.

Trilex EverGol SHIELD is ideal for on-farm treating or for smaller batches towards the end of the treating season, and combines penflufen (Group 7), trifloxystrobin (Group 11) and metalaxyl (Group 4) with Stress Shield insecticide seed treatment (Group 4) that together provide exceptional seed- and soilborne disease protection against Rhizoctonia, Ascochyta, Pythium, Fusarium and Botrytis.

Trilex EverGol SHIELD offers exceptional germination when compared to untreated seed, helping to promote a high-performing root system that supports optimal access to water and nutrients in the development phase.

The concentrated formulation allows growers the flexibility to decrease water volume when adding Stress Shield, micronutrients and/or inoculants. This extra control allows for an optimized application volume and uniform coverage, which helps prevent product overload, allows for low seed moisture content and makes for easier flow through equipment.

For more information visit cropscience.bayer.ca/TrilexEverGolSHIELD.
Published in Seed Treatment
For potato growers in Western Canada who are nervously watching the progress of potato psyllids (Bactericera cockerelli) moving in from the northwest United States, there’s good news: none of the potato psyllids found in Western Canada are carrying the zebra chip pathogen, Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (Lso). The Lso pathogen is transmitted by the potato psyllid, and zebra chip has caused severe damage in potatoes in the western United States, Mexico, Central America and New Zealand.
Published in Insect Pests
New seeding rate and plant stand calculators from the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) will help canola growers set an accurate seeding rate that balances the good start canola needs with their profitability goals and appetite for risk.

Why build them? Growers often default to seeding rates of 5 lb./ac. or lower, regardless of seed size or field conditions. These tools will help growers as well as agronomists and seed retailers make more refined decisions.

What do they do? With the target density calculator, users position sliding scales to determine the level of risk for various factors that influence plant stand targets. If weed competition is expected to be very low, for example, the calculator will set a lower target stand. But if spring frost risk is high, the calculator sets a higher target stand to compensate.

The seeding rate calculator has three modes. In seeding rate mode, users input thousand seed weight (TSW), target plant density and estimated seed survival, and the calculator computes the required seeding rate. In plant survival mode, users enter the number of plants per square foot that emerged along with known TSW and seeding rate, and the calculator gives the seed survival rate. In plant density mode, the calculator takes TSW, seeding rate and estimated seed survival to give the number of plants that should emerge.

Because yield potential is known to drop off with stands of around four plants per square foot, the CCC recommends at least six plants per square foot to provide a buffer against season-long plant loss.

Canada’s canola industry has a goal to reach average yields of 52 bu./ac. by 2025. The CCC estimates that improvements in seeding and plant establishment alone can contribute three bu./ac. The tools at canolacalculator.ca can help.
Published in Canola
The key to controlling tufted vetch in soybeans is to try to maximize control in all crops in the rotation and in all kinds of windows. That’s the advice of Mike Cowbrough, weed management specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). He has been investigating options for tufted vetch control for about 14 years so he knows just how difficult this weed is to conquer.
Published in Weeds
Syngenta Canada has announced the new Trivapro fungicide to barley growers across Western Canada, providing broad-spectrum leaf disease control. Trivapro is the first foliar fungicide on the market to combine three powerful active ingredients and three modes-of-action.

The product contains propiconazole (Group 3), a curative fungicide that acts on already-present disease to halt further infection, azoxystrobin (Group 11), a preventative fungicide that provides disease protection by moving into new growth, and Solatenol, a powerful Group 7 succinate deyhydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicide. The unique chemistry in Solatenol allows it to bind to the waxy layer of the entire leaf, where it is absorbed slowly over time to provide long-lasting residual protection.

Syngenta research trials show Trivapro to be highly effective on key cereal diseases, including barley scald, tan spot and net and spot blotch, while providing improvement in yield potential. 

Trivapro also demonstrates superior performance on major rusts, including leaf rust (Puccinia hordei), stem rust (P. graminis) and stripe rust (P. striiformis).

The Trivapro co-pack should be applied once at early flag leaf timing. Growers should consult the Trivapro product label for additional information.

In addition to being registered on barley, wheat and oats, Trivapro is also registered for use in corn and soybeans to protect against several foliar diseases, including Northern corn leaf blight and grey leaf spot in corn, and Septoria brown spot and frogeye leaf spot in soybeans.

Trivapro fungicide will be available in spring 2017 as a 40-acre co-pack or 400-acre bulk co-pack.
Visit syngenta.ca to learn more. 
Published in Fungicides
Axter Agroscience has improved the performance of CropBooster with the addition of specific organic acids and micronutrients to create CropBooster 2.0. These modifications generate a significant yield increase.

CropBooster 2.0 in the herbicide tank mix produced an average yield increase of 3.3 bushels of wheat per acre in multiple field trials. In these same experiments, CropBooster 2.0 performed better than the original CropBooster with a higher yield increase.

By allowing crop plants to restart growth or to continue growing more quickly, CropBooster 2.0 is also proven to increase yields without reducing weed control.

Click here for more information.
Published in Herbicides
Full registration of the imidazolinone-tolerant (IMI-tolerant) chickpea system with recommended chickpea varieties and registered Solo herbicide is imminent. Two IMI-tolerant chickpea varieties – CDC Alma (Kabuli-type) and CDC Cory (Desi-type) – have already been developed. The Prairie Pesticide Minor Use Consortium has submitted the application for Solo herbicide use on IMI-tolerant chickpea to the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and registration could be received in early 2017.  
Published in Pulses
There is nothing sweet about this disease. Chocolate spot has devastated fababean crops in Australia and Europe, but so far, western Canadian growers have managed to miss most of the damaging effects of the disease.
Published in Pulses
Weed control challenges are becoming even more difficult as the number of herbicide-resistant weeds in pulse crops continues to grow. With more than 60 unique cases of herbicide resistance identified in Canada and some weeds developing resistance to key pulse herbicides such as Pursuit (imazethapyr, Group 2) and Solo (imazamox, Group 2), the challenges will become even more daunting in the future.
Published in Weeds
The Prairie Pest Monitoring Network (PPMN), now in its 20th year, continues to provide timely crop insect pest risk and forecasting tools for growers and the industry across Western Canada. As technology and forecasting tools advance, so does the ability of the network to provide relevant insect pest information related to scouting, identification and monitoring tools and information, plus links to provincial monitoring and support relevant to the Canadian Prairies.
Published in Consumer Issues
The wheat midge forecast for 2017 shows an overall lower level of wheat midge across Alberta. There has been a slight bounce back from the collapse of the extreme populations in the eastern Peace region. Although wheat midge has not followed the forecasts very well in the Peace region, it's important to note that there are likely sufficient populations of midge in the eastern Peace to fuel a resurgence if conditions are in the insects favor (specifically delayed crops and higher than normal rainfall).

Central Alberta has some areas of east of Edmonton with high numbers of wheat midge. The population has remained low in much of southern Alberta with the exception of some irrigated fields. Producers should pay attention to midge downgrading in their wheat samples and use this as a further indication of midge risk in their fields.

Over the past several years the field to field variation has been very considerable throughout the province, especially in those areas with higher counts. Individual fields throughout Alberta may still have economic levels of midge. Each producer also needs to assess their risk based on indicators specific to their farm. | READ MORE


Published in Insect Pests
Researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences have received a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, to design a low-cost, integrated system that can identify and screen for high-yielding, deeper-rooted crops.

The interdisciplinary team, led by Jonathan Lynch, distinguished professor of plant nutrition, will combine a suite of technologies designed to identify phenotypes and genes related to desirable root traits, with the goal of enhancing the breeding of crop varieties better adapted for nitrogen and water acquisition and carbon sequestration.

The project is part of ARPA-E's Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration, or ROOTS, program, which is aimed at developing crops that enable a 50 percent increase in carbon deposition depth and accumulation, while also reducing nitrous oxide emissions by 50 percent and increasing water productivity by 25 percent.

The ROOTS program website explains that while advances in technology have resulted in a tenfold increase in crop productivity over the past century, soil quality has declined, leading to a soil carbon debt equivalent to 65 parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This soil carbon debt increases the need for costly nitrogen fertilizer, which has become the primary source of emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas. The soil carbon debt also impacts crop water use, increasing susceptibility to drought stress, which threatens future productivity.

Given the scale of domestic and global agriculture, there is tremendous potential to reverse these trends by harnessing the photosynthetic bridge between atmospheric carbon, plants, microbes and soil. Advanced root systems that increase soil organic matter can improve soil structure, fertilizer use efficiency, water productivity, crop yield and climate resilience, while mitigating topsoil erosion – all of which provide near-term and sustained economic value. | READ MORE
Published in Corn
A University of Queensland team has made a discovery that could help conquer the greatest threat to global food security: pests and diseases in plants.

Research leader Professor Neena Mitter said BioClay – an environmentally sustainable alternative to chemicals and pesticides – could be a game-changer for crop protection.

“Our disruptive research involves a spray of nano-sized degradable clay used to release double-stranded RNA, that protects plants from specific disease-causing pathogens,” she says.

The research, by scientists from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) and UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) is published in Nature Plants.

Professor Mitter said the technology reduced the use of pesticides without altering the genome of the plants.

Once BioClay is applied, the plant ‘thinks’ it is being attacked by a disease or pest insect and responds by protecting itself from the targeted pest or disease.

“A single spray of BioClay protects the plant and then degrades, reducing the risk to the environment or human health.”

She said BioClay met consumer demands for sustainable crop protection and residue-free produce.
Published in Seed/Chemical
Stripe rust could show up with a vengence in Ontario again this year, but that doesn’t mean we’re lacking the tools to control the problem.

Last year was one of the worst stripe rust years that Albert Tenuta, field crop extension plant pathologist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), has seen. Tenuta addressed the latest on where, when, and how often to apply fungicides to a room of farmers and agronomists at the Southwest Agriculture Conference, which took place Jan. 4 and 5 in Ridgetown, Ont. One of the diseases of focus was stripe rust and whether we can expect to see the same levels of the disease as last year.

Stripe rust typically thrives when temperatures sit around 16 C. But last year rust was exploding and multiplying in elevated nighttime temperatures sitting around 21 to 23 C. This may mean that the pathogen is changing in stripe rust.

“We’re seeing more and more races developing, becoming more heat tolerant,” Tenuta says. “They are living organisms that adapt and change, so nothing stays static over time.”

Since stripe rust is an obligate parasite (the disease needs a host to survive), the rust retreats back to the south in the U.S. in the winter, where there is greenery. With the milder winter last year, it’s likely spores are overwintering closer to Ontario, meaning the spores don’t need to travel as far and making it easier for them to reproduce. As millions and millions of spores are created, there are mutants that can develop and bypass resistance (from temperatures, for example) leading to an increase in cases of the disease.

If stripe rust had overwintered in the province, farmers would have seen it much earlier than the first reports in early May. This year, if conditions are right, we could potentially see the disease back in the province; it depends on the direction of wind as well as temperatures.

If the disease shows up again this year, there are two main ways for farmers to protect their crops. The first is well-timed application of fungicide. According to Martin Chilvers, assistant professor at Michigan State University and co-speaker at the session, in 2016 the most successful applications were the T2, or prior to flowering, applications. With applications at this stage, researchers were able to protect 20 bushels. Strobilurins and triazole compounds are best if applied as a preventative measure for stripe rust, although triazole also shows some post-infection functions as well.

Choosing a stripe-resistant variety is also important – even if it’s a moderately resistant variety. “Although you still see some disease developing, those lesions are often smaller, so they don’t produce as many spores,” Tenuta says. Therefore, spore production is reduced and successive generations decrease substantially.

But, Tenuta cautions, it’s still important to choose a variety that protects against Fusarium first and foremost. “Remember, Fusarium head blight is a risk you have every year. Stripe rust may occur – it may not.” Keep a lookout for stripe rust in your crops starting in May.
Published in Diseases
A team led by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) soil scientist Jeffrey Herrick has developed an innovative cloud computing platform and suite of mobile apps. The Land-Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) “identifies (and in the near future will deliver) knowledge relevant to specific soils to anyone with a mobile phone,” says Herrick, who is based at the ARS Range Management Research Unit in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The LandPKS mobile app, which includes the LandInfo and LandCover modules, taps cloud computing, digital and traditional soil-mapping, and GPS data to provide information on the sustainable potential of land under current and future climate conditions.

The current version of the LandInfo module allows the user to collect soil and site topographic data, while the LandCover module is used to document ground cover, vegetation height, plant density, and spatial patterns of vegetation affecting soil erosion. Domestic and international development organizations and land-management agencies are already using the app to crowd-source the local information needed to inform management decisions.

Read the full story here.
Published in Corporate News
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