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Crop Protection Lab Update

By: Faye Bouchard PAg, MSc, Crop Protection Laboratory Manager

During the month of June, the Crop Protection Lab (CPL) received 137 samples for weed or insect identification and plant disease diagnostics. This brings our 2016 total to 155 since April 1. Most of the samples in recent weeks have been pulse crops with either root rot (28 samples) or suspected herbicide damage (24 samples).

Following recent rain showers across the province, disease samples are expected to “flood” in to the CPL. Please remember to collect fresh samples from “good” and “bad” areas of the field, and include as much information about the field as possible by filling out the submission form completely. Samples may be packaged in a box or paper bag with only the roots (if anything) wrapped in damp paper towel and a Ziploc bag. If possible, avoid sending in fresh specimens over the weekend to prevent decay during shipping.

Double-walled round oospores observed in roots under microscope
Double-walled round oospores observed
 in roots under microscope
We encourage you to call us at 306-787-8130 or email with any questions about sample submission or to provide additional information regarding the field from which the sample was collected. We would love to hear from you! However, we kindly request that inquiries as to the status of samples be avoided, to allow our staff time to pay attention to all samples in a timely fashion. You will be contacted with either a diagnosis or a status update within 15 working days of us receiving your sample.

If Canada Post goes on strike, we will accept samples through Saskatchewan Transit Corporation, but please make arrangements for transport from the bus depot to the lab at 346 McDonald Street in Regina. Dropping off samples in person or using a courier service are the best options. Another advantage to dropping samples off in person is that we now accept debit and credit card (Visa or Mastercard)! Please note that currently this option is only available in person for new samples.

Why Root Rot Diagnoses can be Wishy-Washy

In the last CPL update in CPN, we reported that Aphanomyces root rot was suspected in one lentil sample (based on visual symptoms of caramel-coloured roots containing oospores). Since then, we have seen 11 more lentil samples, 15 pea samples and one chickpea sample with evidence of root rot.

Pulse Crop Samples
Diagnosed in June 2016

Root Rot Complex Diagnoses

Including Fusarium spp.

Fusarium and oomycete

Including oomycete(s)





Field Pea








In lentil and field pea, root rot occurs in a complex that may include Aphanomyces, Fusarium, Pythium and Rhizoctonia. This means it is not uncommon to see evidence of more than one pathogen in a single sample. A root rot diagnosis from the CPL will tell you whether or not oospores were observed during a microscopic examination of the roots (indicative of Aphanomyces or Pythium) and will note if the roots were caramel-coloured (indicative of aphanomyces root rot), if the vascular tissue had any red streaking (indicative of fusarium root rot) or if Fusarium spp. were observed after culturing.
Lentil sample with root rot symptoms and fusarium isolated on plates
Lentil sample with root rot symptoms
and Fusarium isolated on plates

We will do our best to consider all of the evidence, including field history, symptomology, microscopy, and/or plating, and comment on any and all issues evident with the sample (e.g. other diseases, environmental stress or suspected herbicide damage). But remember, signs and symptoms of disease can be enhanced or masked by other stresses and disease issues. Just because you know that one pathogen is present (or not) doesn’t preclude the possibility that others are there, too. The same caution should be used when interpreting a PCR test (available from a private lab) for Aphanomyces presence or absence.

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