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Stackyard News Jul 2010

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    Sclerotinia Tolerance Clear in Variety Plots

Valuable sclerotinia tolerance clearly shown by one leading oilseed rape variety on Masstock demonstration farms this season offers growers a much-needed extra weapon in combating this increasingly damaging disease.

Catana strip plot at Dundee SMART Farm nice and green as a result of minimal sclerotinia in the centre with plots of other badly affect varieties down either side going prematurely yellow/brown as a result.

Catana strip

The particular ability of Catana to survive sclerotinia has been most obvious in the company’s Dundee and Brotherton SMART Farm plots. While all other varieties showed infection levels of 40-60% immediately ahead of desiccation, the popular northern pure-line was barely affected. At Dundee, no infection whatsoever could be detected in Catana, while levels at Brotherton were just 2%.

“The variety was obvious from the road at Dundee as the only green plot in a field of rapidly senescing rape,” explains Masstock SMART Farming technical development manager, Philip Marr. “Although clearly insufficient for the rest of the varieties, the single flowering spray of Filan and Delsene was enough to keep the Catana sclerotinia-free. And at Brotherton, where we deliberately don’t use a flowering spray to challenge varieties, a minimal level of infection contrasted with up to 60% in other plots.

“This confirms the differences we’ve seen between varieties in our work over the past three seasons,” he notes. “Catana’s superiority is also very obvious in trials in Poland where sclerotinia problems have been especially bad this year. At 16% of plants infected, it was markedly better than the 37% Castille benchmark.

With no known sources of sclerotinia resistance and no link to time of flowering, Philip Marr believes Catana’s tolerance is probably related to the relatively high levels of lignin in the variety’s tissue; a physiological character which restricts
fungal proliferation beyond the immediate site of infection to great effect.

“Higher lignin levels may also explain the variety’s very strong performance in the face of stem canker despite an official resistance score of 4,” he suggests. “And, together with rooting vigour, perhaps also its ability to tolerate club root noticeably better than all but resistant varieties.

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