Beneda outlines awareness of clubroot

The 17th Annual Canola Expo, sponsored by the Northern Canola Growers Association, was held Wednesday at the Langdon Activity Center.

Posted on 12/14/13

By Lee Coleman

While the Expo Center had rows of vendors representing numerous aspects of the farming industry, the Masonic Lodge served as the setting for several speeches during the day.

Murray Belyk of Bayer Crop Science spoke to the gathering about canola and bees.

“Canola will self or wind pollinate but it is not 100 percent efficient,” Belyk said. “There are pollination gaps where honey bees and leaf cutter bees pollination actually increases the crop yield five to 40 percent.

“Research has shown this is the cause and that is quite beneficial to all of us.”

Hybrid canola has become a staple of the Bayer business model.

“Our company has created hybrid canola and the only way the hybrid can be generated is by using pollinators like honey bees and leaf cutter bees,” Belyk explained. “They are very important to our business so that we can provide commercial canola growers with high quality canola seed that will yield to meet their expectations.”

When asked to address the mountain of complaints from citizens about swarming bees and unregistered bee farmers in the county, Belyk said he wasn’t aware of any problems until Tuesday.

“It is a difficult situation,” he answered. “It is possible to change those behaviors through good communications with the bee farmers. The canola farmers know the bees are present on their fields.

“Respectful relationships are built on that. It is important that communication is part of the process or you will run into problems.

“Honey bees not only produce honey, they are critical for our pollination services. In the U.S., they will be pollinating trees, tree nuts, vegetables, fruit and canola.”

Belyk said it is estimated honey bees contribute about $15 billion in production, representing a significant amount to the economy.

In other canola news, Langdon Extension Office Director Ron Beneda had disturbing news about a new canola disease that was detected for the first time in Cavalier County this year.

The disease, known as clubroot, or plasmodiophora brassicae, is a pathogen that survives in the soil and infects the roots of canola and other Brassicae plants such as broccoli, cauliflower, Shepherd’s purse and wild mustard.

Anything that moves soil can move the pathogen. The pathogen likely moved into North Dakota through movement of soil on farm equipment, wind erosion or flooding.

Damage from clubroot often starts in small patches in fields. Plants may look stunted, yellow and generally unhealthy looking. Roots in those plants will be swollen and shaped like clubs.

“The biggest concern is keeping rotations decent so we don’t have blackleg explode in a few fields like it did last year,” said Beneda. “We are making sure guys are aware of the symptoms so if they have them, they can select varieties that are somewhat resistant to them.”

Beneda said there were about 200,000 acres of canola fields in Cavalier County this year, down from 320,000 acres in 2012.